STEM Volunteers Help Underserved Students

3 girls and two boys observe an adult demonstrating some activity with red wires

Science fairs changed Russ’s life, and he believes they can do the same for underserved students everywhere.

Growing up in Leesville, Louisiana, a place Russ describes as “four hours from anything interesting,” science competitions opened doors for him.

“I wasn’t athletic, but I was able to participate in the local science fair,” says Russ. “That changed the entire trajectory of my life and inspired me to pursue a career in science and engineering.”

Russ is a Northrop Grumman Program Manager supporting the Social Security Administration in Maryland. He’s been volunteering for nearly a decade with the Science Olympiad, a nonprofit science competition that helps children discover the fun of science. He was also recognized by Northrop Grumman for his work supporting thousands of children.

Recognition and Volunteering in the Name of STEM Education

The grant supported programming for the MSO, in which children compete in two- or three-person teams in a variety of academic challenges exposing them to science, technology, engineering and math. The grant allows MSO to provide resources so coaches can better mentor children, while supporting the educational program’s expansion across Maryland.

Russ’s involvement with the Science Olympiad dates back to 2010, when his son got involved in the competition. Russ evolved from parent to coach to event supervisor before joining the National Physics Committee. When he moved to Maryland in 2015, he continued supporting Science Olympiad in multiple states and, in 2017, became both the Executive Director and State Director for the MSO.

Science Is an Opportunity for Underserved Students

As a leader in the Maryland program, Russ launched an effort to better link urban school initiatives for the communities in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. This program supported clinics for coaches and students in the inner city, helping them better deliver STEM opportunities to underserved students. Russ held meetings between the cities to share ideas on recruitment, resolving critical urban issues (such as transportation and food insecurity), and challenging students in an encouraging, safe environment.

Science Olympiad offers an opportunity for underserved students to experience STEM activities hands on.

“Science is the reason that I was able to achieve many of my goals in life,” says Russ.

“Kids don’t know that science is a way out. They have seen and heard all the stories about the guy who’s freakishly good at sports. I want to help youngsters who come from areas where science isn’t a big deal, and I want to help them achieve their goals.”

Northrop Grumman supports employees in many volunteer pursuits, especially in STEM-related activities. Search jobs that may be of interest to you in engineering, chemistry, data analytics, physics, cyber and more.

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