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‘Celebrating Black Excellence’ event Teaches Elementary Students About Becoming Future Leaders

By Noell Saunders

Fifth graders from Jacox and Coleman Place elementary schools explored the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) during Old Dominion University's 3rd annual Celebrating Black Excellence event on April 4.

Celebrating Black Excellence, an event hosted by the Darden College of Education, highlights the accomplishments and success of African Americans who are currently paving the way for future generations

The fifth grade students participated in a variety of classes taught by ODU students, staff and faculty from across the University. Participants learned about entrepreneurship, designed paper airplanes with an ODU engineering team, built sculptures, learned about exercise science and human movement, and explored wind turbines, forensics, print making, poetry and 3-dimensional art.

Mikiah Everett, an elementary education graduate student at Old Dominion University, is part owner of her father's mechanical business. Everett, one of the volunteer instructors for the entrepreneurship class, said her family instilled the value of working hard to achieve and now she enjoys encouraging younger students.

"It's an inspiration to be able to teach little girls, who look just like me, about entrepreneurship. At a young age, they can become their own leaders," Everett said.

Jennifer Kidd, a senior lecturer of Teaching and Learning in the Darden College of Education, is the founder of Celebrating Black Excellence at the University. Kidd said the idea is to expose younger students to STEAM fields in which women and minorities have been underrepresented while giving ODU students a chance to gain experience.

"This gives my students a taste of what they will be doing by interacting with these kids. As for the fifth graders, we want them to be encouraged to pursue careers in STEAM while looking to our students as role models and mentors," she said.

Paired with ODU student mentors, the 5th graders also enjoyed a brief tour of campus before heading to the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center for an exhibit fair that featured presentations on contemporary black leaders and social justice issues created by education students.

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