Students, families, teachers, and community organizations are invited to attend the 16th annual Black Family Technology Awareness Day program on Saturday, Feb. 1. The event, which is part of a nationally celebrated week of the same name, is designed to spur young people’s interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and the arts.

Black Family Technology Day

More than 1,000 area students and families attended last year’s event.

This year’s theme, “Innovate to Educate: Re-Introducing Young Minds to Opportunities in STEM,” is meant to explore ways to break down barriers and re-introduce or reconnect students to STEM in ways that are engaging and interactive, and that will open their minds to the infinite possibilities that immersion in the STEM disciplines can provide.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. The opening program will begin at 9:15 a.m. in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC), room 308. President Shirley Ann Jackson will deliver the opening remarks.

The event is free and open to the public. Individuals will have an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and explore a series of workshop sessions and hands-on activities led by Rensselaer professors, students, staff, alumni, and alumnae, as well as area businesses and local community organizations.

Workshop offerings include exploring the science behind music, creating plasma art, designing key chains, building a wind turbine, learning about electric vehicles, uncovering the mysteries of laser technology, designing bridges using gumdrops, investigating different types of engineering, programming LEGO® Mindstorm robotics, experiencing the excitement of a trading floor through a simulated exercise, making models of nanoscale structures with African Hexastrip weaving, and applying the laws of physics to the game of pocket billiards.

Christopher Emdin

Keynote speaker Christopher Emdin.

Other program highlights include a lunchtime exercise/dance break and a special showcase featuring the five schools at Rensselaer. This will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center.
Following lunch, the afternoon portion of the event will be held in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)

Concert Hall, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Attendees will be treated to a live jazz music performance featuring the local jazz group Ten27. The group’s “The Black Book Project” combines a multimedia production featuring images from the Hubble Telescope with performances of seven original pieces inspired by themes in modern cosmology.

The event will culminate with a keynote address by Christopher Emdin, a social critic, public intellectual, and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality, and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals. Emdin is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as director of Secondary School Initiatives at the Urban Science Education Center. He is an expert on improving urban education, the intersection of hip-hop and education, STEM education, politics, race, class, diversity, and youth empowerment.

Black Family Technology Awareness Day is part of a larger Rensselaer effort to interest area young people and their families in pursuing occupations in the fields of science and engineering.

Volunteers are needed for event set-up and breakdown, staffing workshop presenter rooms, directing attendees to event locations, and more. To volunteer, contact Ajuba Jones, volunteer committee chair, at

More information regarding the program and registration.