Meadow Glade Student Invited to National Youth Leadership Forum

July 17, 2017 | Malaika Childers

Noah Schmalenberger, a seventh-grade student at Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary School (MGAES) in Battle Ground, Wash., was invited to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) Explore STEM this summer. The NYLF Explore STEM program is designed to give high-achieving middle school students an introduction to careers in the innovative and highly competitive fields of medicine, technology and engineering. The forum provides students with a broad range of academic and career insights through interactive simulations, hands-on projects and educational site visits all focused on the theme of planning a successful “Mission to Mars.”

Students invited to the NYLF are nominated by current or former teachers across the nation for academic excellence, potential and interest in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM fields. If the nomination is accepted, students are then invited to attend the event.

This year’s NYLF features keynote speakers included Captain Jerry Michael Linenger, former NASA astronaut, flight surgeon and U.S. Navy (ret.); and Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, commercial space flight pioneer, and OneOrbit founder and CEO.

Schmalenberger will have the opportunity to participate in planning a mission to Mars through interaction with a variety of STEM professionals. He and fellow students will participate in a coding simulation, which will allow him to create his own mobile app and to construct a Mars rover. He will also attend a class entitled “When Care Is Hours Away.” In this class, he will develop critical thinking skills while practicing medical techniques during a realistic simulation.

In addition, Schmalenberger will examine the ethical frontiers of 21st-century science and get hands-on experience using cutting-edge technology through an interactive team project. Finally, before he leaves, he will create his own personalized success plan to help him prepare for the academic challenges and career opportunities that lie ahead.

This year, there are eight weeklong sessions being held across the country. A nominee may choose which of the eight to attend. Schmalenberger has chosen to attend the NYLF at Loyola University in Chicago, Ill.

Because of a few complications, neither of Schmalenberger's parents are attending with him. His uncle is accompanying him on the trip. “We are so proud and excited for Noah. This is such an amazing experience for him to attend this conference and see where the future of technology is headed. He's earned this opportunity through hours of self-education and his teachers at MGAES noticing his dedication to technological advancement. His future will definitely be technology based and this will give him some ideas of what that can look like for careers,” say his parents, Peter and Heidi Schmalenberger.

“Noah is an amazing, well-rounded student. He is a high-level thinker who will benefit from all that STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education has to offer. I think it is going to be important for him to have the opportunity to meet up with like-minded peers from across the nation. Whether or not I should nominate him was not the question. The only question was how quickly I could get the nomination in the mail,” says Malaika Childers, Schmalenberger's former teacher.

Like with most things in his life, Schmalenberger is pretty low-key about this opportunity. He tries to hide a smile when asked how he feels about going, but he can’t stop himself.

Following the conference Schmalenberger plans to return to school and share what he has learned with his classmates and teachers.