By Molly Goad
New United States forever stamps celebrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics were dedicated April 6 during the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
In keeping with the technology theme, the four STEM Education forever stamps were unveiled digitally on the big screen.
USPS dedicating official Steven W. Monteith talked about the importance of STEM in his organization, citing Informed Delivery, new technology that sends customers an email every morning with a digital preview of what they will receive in their mailbox. Monteith said Informed Delivery has nearly 9 million users so far since it was introduced last year.
“It lets you monitor not just your correspondence from anywhere, but also track your packages; if you’re not home, you can reschedule deliveries,” he said. “It’s safe to say that Informed Delivery would have been impossible without STEM … In fact, the postal service has benefited from STEM since the very beginning more than 240 years ago. As we moved from manual sortation and horse-drawn wagons to air-mail delivery 100 years ago, to automation equipment that can process half a billion letters each day, all of our innovations have come through science, technology, engineering and math.”
The USPS gathered a host of impressive experts using STEM every day to share their stories with the audience. NASA’s Kris Brown, deputy associate administrator for education, spoke directly to the students in attendance, and asked them to dream for a minute.
“Can you envision today where STEM might take you?” she asked. “You could be astronauts who live and work on Mars. You could be part of a team that discovers cures for cancer or for a debilitating disease. You could be a geologist who travels around the world to do field work. You could be instrumental at discovering life on a planet in another galaxy. The sky is the limit.”
Dr. Mark Eakin is a coral reef specialist and coordinator of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program, an effort focused on the monitoring of coral reef ecosystems not only at the source, but through satellite and paleoenvironmental observations. Dr. Eakin said coral bleaching — a process where corals expel algae and therefore turn white in color — is an important area that uses every aspect of the STEM discipline.
“We have scientists, biologists, oceanographers who are looking at why corals bleach … we have technologists … who are developing the instruments that are going to go up on the satellites and then we have the engineers who are designing, building those NOAA satellites that take those instruments up and allow us to look all around the world to see what’s going on,” Dr. Eakin said, adding that mathematics is something they use every day in converting digital signals from the satellites and more.
Dr. Eakin also shared that he has been a topical stamp collector for many years.
“I’ve been collecting marine life stamps since I was a teenager,” Eakin said. “Shout out to that really cool set of bioluminescent stamps over there [refering to the U.S. Postal Service booth].”
The final speaker of the day was an extraordinary 17-year-old Regeneron Science Talent Search finalist, Kavya Kopparapu. A senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Kopparapu is founder and CEO of the Girls Computing League.
“I hope that in the future we can take the support that we have here … and work toward making technology a field of opportunity for students of all ages, all genders, all races and all backgrounds,” Kopparapu said.
Danni Washington shared emcee duties with Courtney Pine from the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. Washington is an ocean advocate, science communicator, and the first African American female to hose her own science show. Her program, XPLORATION NATURE KNOWS BEST, is syndicated on FOX and available on HULU, Amazon Prime, Roku and Yahoo View.
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The nondenominated (50¢) forever stamps are issued in a pane of 20. The panes may not be split for individual stamp sales, according to the Postal Service. For more information on the set, see USPS offers STEM Education commemorative stamps.