By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]

On June 1, District youth will be able to have fun while learning as former Miss USA (2017) Kára McCullough is offering her second annual, “Take Flight with SE4K,” a program to expose children to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) work in an interactive way.

“The second annual ‘Take Flight with SE4K’ event is just another opportunity for us to introduce all of the opportunities within science and engineering for students,” McCullough told the AFRO in an exclusive interview.

Former Miss USA and Miss D.C. Kára McCullough is bringing back the second annual “Take Flight with SE4K” at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator in Northwest, D.C. on June 1 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Courtesy Photo)

Although known for her reign as a pageant queen, McCullough’s hard work is far beyond looking beautiful in ball gowns and swimsuits.  The former Miss USA is actually a scientist and her organization Science Exploration for Kids (SE4K), works diligently to ensure children are exposed to math and science in a fun and creative way and educate them on career opportunities within the fields.  Further, McCullough knew that SE4K was particularly important for children of color.

“The program was started because I’ve always loved math and science, and I wanted to encourage all children that were in the same background demographically, such as myself… to fall in love with math and science,” she said. “And we really want to get them at a very impressionable age… so we know that our program is going to have a lasting effect on these children.”

In order to engage children McCullough is offering programming from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. that will allow participants to get tactile experience doing STEAM work.

“We have coding, we have wet chemistry, we have robotics, we have water engineering, we have basketball analytics- so that would be like physics- so we’re actually touching every part of STEM.  And the arts would be included because we’re doing all the hands-on activities.”

McCullough, whose first title was Miss. D.C. USA, found it even more important to have her second annual program in the nation’s capital.

“It’s definitely home and it’s definitely a place that deserves a lot of attention.  We know that D.C. offers so much history and so much job opportunities for students, so we started here,” she told the AFRO. “Starting here was just a chance for us to lay our roots and make an impact as much as possible, and as we build out we’ll be able to say that D.C. is where we started.”  

Further, the scientist and beauty queen knows firsthand how important it is to offer programming to young people of color, as McCullough did not always see herself reflected on pageant stages or in laboratories.

“It’s all about the representation.  So usually in media, you don’t see scientists that appear as African American women, women with natural hair, many African American guys.  So we’re here to change that rhetoric,” McCullough told the AFRO. “We know that usually the best way to encourage students to fall in love with something, is to give them something that mirrors them, so having opportunities to expose many minority students to what science and engineering has to offer, begins with us.”

“The thing is just giving students the opportunity to have the exposure and to know that they are limitless,” McCullough added.

Parents interested in exposing their children to the limitless world of STEAM, can go to https://www.se4k.com/events, and click on the “Take Flight with SE4K,” event tab, to register for the June 1 (11 a.m.- 4p.m.) event at Inclusive Innovation Incubator, 2301 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Besides the “Take Flight with SE4K,” event on June 1, McCullough is ironing out plans for another day-long workshop, due to the high demand, as well as a girls summer camp.

In addition, the scientist, pageant queen and mentor has advice for parents with children who show interest in STEAM work.

“Continue exposing your children to science and engineering if they have any interest in it, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out to the SE4K team, because we’re here to assist with that.”