Today's blog post is inspired by all of the #BlackListCleared posts on my Twitter timeline. As we prepare for a new school year, America's teachers are crowd sourcing their classroom supplies by posting their wish lists on social media. So as a parent, a child of a retired kindergarten teacher, and engineering professor, not only do I support teachers but I also support students. So in the midst of doing that, I also have to go shop for my own kid's very detailed list of supplies as well. To say this is absolutely ridiculous, as billionaires spend money to fly to space for fun is an understatement. I know folks like to say don't count other people's money but really?! These billionaires could not build their rocket ship without a team of engineers and scientists. Where do the engineers and scientists come from? A teacher who helped cultivate their knowledge and grow their passion for STEM.
How can we value education and support educators as much as we do other professions? That is the million dollar question. No pun intended, maybe.
My mission is to #DiversifySTEM #NormalizeBlackSTEM #PromoteBlackSTEM #AmplifyBlackSTEM but I cannot do this alone. How can I expect K-12 teachers to help get the students to me when they don't even have markers and hand sanitizer for class?
I often say that I cannot teach motivation, each person has to find something within themselves to want to excel and achieve their goals. However, I can inspire and share my wisdom and excitement with hopes that it is infectious. My college students are the product of a K-12 teacher who did the same for them. We need teachers to help clear the pathway to STEM for our students. How can they do that if they are worried about whether kids have pencils and paper? This is not even what I planned to write about, I wanted to share strategies to help get kids ready for college and engineering but I had to get the rant out first. Thanks for coming to my mini Ted talk 😁.
Things teachers, students and parents can do to prepare for the journey and potential obstacles to STEMMING.
Feed into their curiosity at every turn with educational toys or everyday household items.
Have them explore taking things apart and putting them back together.
Help them get comfortable asking for help.
Show them the value in working on a team or working with others to achieve a goal
Explain the importance of being not just a consumer but a creator of technology
Always ask them what they are thinking and get them to reflect on things they do throughout the day. i.e. Why do we put salt in water before boiling eggs?
Encourage kids to ask lots of questions about everything. i.e. Why do you unplug the television during a thunderstorm?
Be honest about what you do and don't know and show kids how to research for answers. i.e. I don't know but let's go Google.
Encourage kids to take as many math, science, engineering, and technology classes, workshops during the school year and summer as possible
Expose them to a diversity of professionals, mentors, and role models in STEM (see the BlackInX movement)
Explain that there is no one set pathway to STEM and expose them to STEM in all forms including social media, television, movies, YouTube, teachers, professionals, role models.
Highlight when you see STEM in media for example Uhura in Star Trek, Shuri in Black Panther or Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures
Integrate STEM with their other interests such as music, sports, art, dancing so they can see that STEM is everywhere
As they get older, encourage them to always ask for more from their teachers. Expect to get homework or additional reading in high school.
If they are not challenged at school, help them identify activities to do on their own like writing a book, programming a robot, building a computer or designing an LED light display for their room
We have to break the model and make sure students know that they do look like an engineer, scientist, technologist or mathematician.
Thank you to HS Math Teacher and my Spelman Sister, Gayle D. Herrington @GayleHerrington for inspiring this post 💙💙💙. Please go support her classroom and students at the following links: