STEM NOLA: Rocket Day Held To Teach Kids STEM Skills

TEM NOLA Founder Dr. Calvin Mackie watches with students as rocket launches to the sky.


New Orleans, LA–Above STEM NOLA Founder Dr. Calvin Mackie watches with students as rocket launches to the sky.

STEM NOLA, a non-profit committed to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, launched its return to in-person programming Saturday with an extraordinary Rocket Day STEM Saturday at the UNO Lakefront Arena.

It marked the non-profit’s first onsite STEM event in 15 months after expanding significantly during virtual-only programming in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic limited live events.

“The thirst for this event has been absolutely amazing. You could tell that people wanted to come out and be out to see their children engaged in skills with other children,” said STEM NOLA Founder Dr. Calvin Mackie. “The critical skills needed in STEM are communications, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration, so to see kids working together, building a rocket together, and watching it launch, you realize our children are yearning to be back together.”

Thanks to supporters and sponsors, such as the Entergy Corporation, Dr. Mackie created STEM NOLA in 2013 and brought STEM into New Orleans communities with hands-on programs at churches, schools and community centers. When COVID-19 struck, the organization adjusted and expanded to digital offerings so the learning would continue not only in New Orleans but in cities across the region and country, ultimately reaching kids in 47 states and five countries. In the last eight years, STEM NOLA has impacted 65,000 students, 17,000 families and 2,150 schools.

In partnership with Boeing, STEM NOLA provided an exciting experience to more than 300 K-12th grade students in the New Orleans community, who have anxiously awaited the return to monthly in-person STEM programming. See video from the event HERE:

“The number one thing I want the kids to take away from today is to have fun. We have fun while we’re building our rockets. It’s tough yes, but have fun,” said Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Boeing’s Director of Operations at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. “The other thing I want them to take away is how important math and science is to build something like a space launch system rocket, so getting those basics and learning that will get them even more excited to potentially be that next rocket scientist for us.”

The attendance far exceeded that number expected due to the overwhelming interest from children and parents throughout the region. During the free three-hour event, students learned about rocket proposition, trajectory and thrust before building and launching their own rockets.

“I home school my kids, so to be able to find something tangible in the STEM world is amazing, so I’m hoping they have a good time and learn something in the process as well,” said J.D. Carrere who attended his first STEM NOLA event with his two sons Saturday. “I just moved from Los Angeles back home to New Orleans, so to be able to see something like this here in the city is exciting for a multitude of reasons but just the access for me is the most exciting.”

With their STEM programs rapidly expanding, the organization this month is rebranding to STEM Global Action, a network and campaign committed to pursuing the advancement of STEM education for children and communities everywhere. Participants in STEM Global Action programs receive a unique interactive, hands-on learning experience that allows children of all ages to deepen their knowledge in STEM studies, gain confidence in their abilities and chart a course for career opportunities in STEM fields. Sponsors receive unique opportunities to link their brands with a mission that is expanding racial equity and creating pathways to success in communities of color.

“STEM Global Action will be a hub for our activities and a valuable resource for every individual, organization, government agency and others interested in expanding STEM education,” said Dr. Mackie. “It is where you come to learn more about the benefits of STEM and how these skills can change your life, and the lives of those in your community.” 

Launched in 2013, STEM NOLA provides communities in New Orleans, Louisiana and communities across the country with hands-on fun and education programs that raise awareness of the many benefits of science, technology, engineering and math skills. The non-profit specializes in utilizing community facilities – churches, schools and community centers – to bring STEM education directly to K-12 students right in their own neighborhoods, especially low-income areas and communities of color, which historically have been under-resourced. Learn more about STEM NOLA by visiting our website at

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