Innovative Summer Immersion: Focus on STEM!

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RIISE is thrilled to have Joy Lawson Davis in our network!  Joy is a well respected and fantastic resource supporting our talented kids!

Innovative Summer Immersion: Focus on STEM!!

Guest post by:

Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D., Author of ‘Bright, Talented & Black: A guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners’ and Board Member, National Association for Gifted Children

 

An immersion experience allows students/learners to be deeply engaged and actively learning, creating, and producing. Like a foreign language immersion classroom, when you immerse your students/children & youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) it becomes a part of their everyday experience!! Immersion creates a sense of belonging and increases the value students have for the content areas, with the outcomes being more interest and increased achievement in school!

To be immersed in STEM programming allows learners to focus on the skills, concepts, and ‘bigger’ ideas of scientific thinking and problem-solving while being exposed to future oriented skill-building. Discussing ideas, creating experiments, and developing new technologies can be exciting! Many high ability African American students have great interests and inclinations in STEM related area! Access and exposure to opportunities will provide the outlet needed for their gifts to emerge!

 

STEM is a widely known acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. As a nation, we have become excited about STEM and the benefits of STEM learning for all students. Even with all the attention and new programs, we continue, however, to see STEM as an area of disproportionate representation. A report released earlier this year, indicated that cultural minority youth participate in STEM less frequently than students from Asian and Anglo backgrounds. This lack of participation is the result of a lack of access and opportunities, not necessarily to a lack of interest in STEM related courses and activities.

 

Recently, I reviewed several websites and social media sites sharing STEM related programming and noticed an obvious equity issue. Manyof the sites presented pictures of students from Anglo, Asian, Middle Eastern cultures, few if any represented African American or Hispanic American students. As with any other imagery, this lack of ‘mirroring’ sends a subliminal message that STEM (at least as indicated on these sites) is NOT for children of color.

 

Fortunately, there are a number of progressive scholars, educators and community leaders across the nation who are building outstanding models of STEM programs for students of color. Some, like the National Society of Black Engineers have provided programming and resources for young engineers for decades!! More recently, local engineers, scholars and community leaders have created community based programming to nurture an interest in children of color in STEM related programming and future careers.

 

We must help children of color know that STEM is for them, too!! STEM related disciplines also provide opportunities to engage in hands on, experimental design, competitions, and provide multiple opportunities for students to interact with their global neighbors. STEM programs are some of the fastest growing and most well-funded of all educational programs nationwide.

 

We can combat the low number of children of color participating and enrolled in STEM related programs by stirring up interest early and sustaining this interest through active engagement. The idea that students are not interested in STEM is just a myth! Like so many other myths perpetuated by general society about children of color, we MUST do our part to dispel the myths.

 

A few tips:

  • Enroll your child in summer STEM camps that are available at colleges and universities nationwide! Conduct a search to find programs of interest in your area (some of the links below may be of assistance)
  • Visit science museums and participate in brief (1-2 day) Science & Technology workshops
  • Create a STEM club within your own community. Purchase Lego Robotics kits, engage an area engineer or college students to come and work with the students. (Be sure to include girls in the club, research has shown that girls are less involved in STEM programming, but not for lack of interest. See Uplift, Inc. for ideas)
  • Investigate the possibility of initiating a STEM partnership program supported by private and public funding. Solicit neighbors, area colleges, professional organizations and family members in STEM careers to serve on your advisory board
  • While traveling, discuss bridges, tunnels, airplanes, and architectural design as functional uses of STEM.
  • Study the history of inventions and other contributions created by African American Engineers, Scientists, Mathematicians.

 

-Important STEM Resources to know about-

egifted online courses

http://www.egifted.org/#!engineering-class/c1k1g

 

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/compete/intel-isef/

  • The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair unites top scientific minds from around the world, showcasing talent on an international stage. Students submit work that is judged by doctoral level scientists, and providing the opportunity to compete for over $3 million in prizes and scholarships.

 

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

http://www.nsbe.org/Programs/Competitions/KidZone.aspx

  • The National Society for Black Engineers strives to increase the number of minority students studying engineering. They sponsor regional and national competitions for students in middle school, high school and award scholarships annually.

Uplift, Inc. Washington, D.C.

http://www.upliftdc.org/index.html

  • Uplift, Inc. guides preK-12 students through innovative educational experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics and Computer Science (STEAM+CS), teaching them to solve everyday problems as they advance toward making real world impact. {This exemplary program was created by an African American female Engineer, Uplift, Inc. is well funded and is becoming a national model for STEM programming for African American students and other underrepresented groups}

 

STEM IS FOR OUR CHILDREN, TOO!! AS COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, WE MUST MAKE A CONCERTED EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT STEM RELATED LEARNING & COMPETITION EXPERIENCES ARE AVAILABLE, ACCESSIBLE, AND AFFORDABLE FOR OUR CHILDREN. WE HAVE A GREAT LEGACY OF CREATIVE INNOVATORS, SCIENTISTS, INVENTORS, MATHEMATICS TO DRAW UPON. ONCE EXPOSED TO THE EXCITEMENT AND ENGAGEMENT OF STEM PROGRAMMING, STUDENTS BEGIN TO ‘OWN’ THE PROBLEMS, THE MATERIALS, THE IDEAS, SEE THE APPLICATIONS OF CONTENT AREA SKILLS, AND SEE THEMSELVES AS CREATORS OF NEW IDEAS THAT CAN POSITIVELY IMPACT OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR WORLD- NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.

 

Feel free to contact me at profjoy1022@gmail.com for more information and to assist you with making connections with STEM professionals.

 

 

 

 

 

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