Skip to main content

Meet Kaidyn McNoriell, a Rising Star in STEM from Detroit Merit Academy

In the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), young people are helping shape the future. Kaidyn McNoriell from Detroit Merit Charter Academy is no exception, despite being only in the second grade. McNoriell was recently recognized as a "Rising Star for Excellence in Engineering."

Kaidyn McNoriell's Rising Start Award.

McNoriell's journey into engineering began in first grade when he joined the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). This innovative program meets on Saturdays at a local church, providing students with the opportunity to enhance their STEM skills. McNoriell’s grandmother, Sharon Gatewood, a third-grade teacher at Detroit Merit, shared that each semester, young engineers are tasked with creating projects. “Kaidyn's first project was a Power Alien Ship," she said. “I made it with Play-Doh, clay, LED lights, and a battery pack!” exclaimed McNoriell.
Since then, McNoriell has continued to grow his skills, and his hard work and dedication haven’t gone unnoticed. He was nominated for the "Rising Star" award this year by his DAPCEP teacher, Shelley Thomas. The award is part of the annual Real McCoy event organized by DAPCEP and DTE Energy, recognizing professionals, educational leaders, and exceptional young talent in the STEM field.

Kaidyn McNoriell accepting award.
McNoriell’s enthusiasm for engineering is evident. When asked about how it felt to win the "Rising Star" award, he shared that the honor made him feel "bigger" and "really excited." At the award ceremony, he donned his lab coat, representing his passion and dedication to engineering.
“He was over the top at the award ceremony because he got to meet the president of DTE,” shared Gatewood. “She invited Kaidyn to spend a day with her at work, offering him a scholarship and the potential for an internship once he reaches high school.”

Kaidyn McNoriell with DTE President.

After learning about his award, McNoriell’s entire class at Detroit Merit showered him with congratulations. His classmates are familiar with STEM because of Detroit Merit’s various programs. They recently held STEM Night, which is a significant event where students get hands-on experience with STEM projects and presentations, helping them explore various aspects of the field. Events like these have helped Detroit Merit outperform the local district for the last 13 years.
When asked about his future, McNoriell said he hopes to one day work in construction engineering, preferably for DTE. He also shared advice for future engineers, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and encouraging them to "stick to it."
Gatewood said she’s proud of her grandson’s accomplishments, hoping he will remain humble and continue to push himself to do more things like this with other students and his friends.
Congratulations to Kaidyn on being a Rising Star for Excellence in Engineering!
Check out a school near you!

About Detroit Merit Charter Academy
Detroit Merit Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Detroit Merit Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.