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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

First ever ‘Geek Speak’ aims to entice minorities to STEM majors

Even though recent research indicates that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are among the most profitable for minority students, piquing their attention in these fields is often a challenge.

That’s according to Vernard Henley, director of recruitment and outreach for UALR’s George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT).

Henley hopes to mollify this situation by offering UALR’s first ever “Geek Speak” event on Wednesday, June 19, in the EIT Auditorium.

The event features Darryl Baynes, co-founder and president of the Minority Aviation Education Association’s Interactive Science Programs, which specializes in hands-on demonstrations to capture students’ attention and encourage science careers.

Two programs will be offered. A session for fifth through eighth grades will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and sixth through 12th grades from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. UALR is also sponsoring Baynes’ presentation at 8 a.m. at Wakefield Elementary School.

Baynes, an African-American and former pilot, has been featured on CNN, BET News, and Tech Talk TV. He has made a career out of showing the fun side of science through such techniques as freezing balloons and marshmallows to demonstrate the chemical properties of liquid nitrogen.

“We are inviting underrepresented student groups to campus to learn how exciting science can be from someone who looks like them,” said Henley. He added that he hopes the event exposes UALR to nearby neighborhoods and gets the surrounding community involved and invested in their university.

All Geek Speak events are free and open to the public, although seating has been reserved for about 75 children enrolled in local youth and summer programs.

Funding is made possible by private donations and the EIT. For more information or to RSVP, email vwhenley@ualr.edu or call 501.569.8203.