The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosted the 24th annual Black Families Technology Awareness Day on Saturday, which introduced hundreds of underrepresented students to STEM fields.

This event was free for the public and introduced children in grades K-12, their families and educators to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

"[We are] taking technical subjects fun," Theresa Hobbs said. "It is so important for children to have fun so that they can translate their learning and bring their energy to the classroom. So I think it's just a win-win to have both content and energy and excitement about it."

The event has been held for 24 years and is intended to expose African American children to an industry in which African Americans account for only 9% of jobs. This is according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center. 

"We want to provide young people of color with an understanding of the STEM field and expand the pipeline for minorities who are underrepresented in it,” RPI's associate vice president and director of Athletics, Lee McElroy said. “Although it is a growing space, it does not have sufficient minority participation and engagement."

Students participated in a variety of sessions focusing on energy conservation, nuclear engineering, coding, and space exploration, making rockets and airplanes from arts and crafts to help them build fundamental skills and learn aeronautical dynamics. The importance of introducing children to this industry was discussed by parents and chaperones in attendance. 

"STEM is the future, and technology is the future,” non-profit co-founder John Scott said. “So we're dedicated to making sure our kids get exposed to the STEM world as early as possible."

If you or anyone you know is interested in getting their child into STEM programs, you can contact