Taylor Richardson: A Success Story in STEM
There are many examples of role models that children can follow.
They range from sports figures, entertainment icons,
movie stars, even Ninja Turtles and Transformers.
What of the real role models that should be celebrated in
academics and intellectualism within the communities and schools
we live and students attend? Why are our scholars put on the
back-burner ignored or treated as a second thought in to many cases?
When mentioning about scholars too many laugh and make
jokes or say athletics are better, these reactions are why
many kids refuse to grow academically, they are taunted and
teased. Scared to celebrate their accomplishments because of
their intellectualism. Often times Black students are called
“wanna be” or “acting white” by their peers or even tragically
by adults in their lives.
This is a travesty for Black students that want to excel and want
to show they are smart, but their peers tease, bully, make fun of
and even beat them up.
This past summer Taylor Richardson a resident of Jacksonville,
Florida and a student in Duval County Public Schools was the
only student to attend and she graduated from SPACE CAMP
at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
A prestigious honor that has academic and career benefits.
Taylor Richardson attended SPACE CAMP at the U.S. Space
& Rocket Center, home of SPACE CAMP and NASA’s official
Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center.
The weeklong educational program promotes Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math (STEM); while training students and adults
with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership
and decision-making. These are key elements that STEM &
STEAM careers seek to groom the next generation of skilled
young men and women with the skills that embrace critical thinking,
higher order thinking skills and analytical skills.
Taylor was part of the SPACE CAMP Program which is
specifically designed for trainees who have a passionate interest
in science and aerospace. Taylor spent the week training with a
team that flew simulated Space Shuttle missions to the International
Space Station (ISS). Too many youth in our schools do not even
understand that there is a space station orbiting our planet.
Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and
successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or
spacewalk. Taylor and crew returned to earth in time to hear
retired Space Shuttle astronaut Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson
speak at their graduation! Taylor upon graduation received
top honors and college credits, already setting the
foundation for higher education even before high school.
Participating in Space Camps and STEAM / STEM programs
are a wonderful way to expose student to new and developing
careers. The new jobs growing in Jacksonville need these skills,
but to many will not be employable or will be un-employable
with skills low in technology abilities, math and those thinking
The importance of the ISS can be seen in the experiments,
collaboration and cooperation that is shown through international
partnerships. Taylor and those that attended are learning key
components that will allow them to grow not just in local
educational arenas, but on an international level that too
many students can only dream about. STEM / STEAM / STREAM /
CSTEAM are educational initiatives that schools across the nation
are working to incorporate and engage their students. Taylor is
already participating in these areas and exceeding academic
expectations at her elementary school of Chets Creek.
Taylor is a role model and transforming into a symbol that girls;
girls of color at all educational and economic levels can obtain
their goals with supportive parents, high quality teachers,
community partnerships and setting high expectations for success
as Taylors mother does (Latonya Richardson).
Taylor will also be honored with the opportunity to be on the
School Safety Patrol at her school of Chets Creek Elementary,
this shows schools put forward their academics before looking at color,
nationality, gender and culture. Taylor will inspire other students
at Chets Creek to be their best also and shows how the administration
opens their hearts and minds to building up students like Taylor to show
leadership as a future member of the School Safety Patrol. Diversity
in student body is important to show fairness and forward thinking.
From my previous blog about Taylor her quote, “Space Camp is so
amazing! I’m doing things I don’t think I would get the opportunity
to do if I hadn’t come! I get to interact with other kids who have the
same interests and abilities as me. Best time ever.”
More students should have similar experiences as Taylor has. Just
imagine if more student’s, developed a passion and love for STEM
like Taylor does and provided the opportunity to attend Space Camps
and other technology camps how schools would flourish and
become national leaders in STEAM / STEM. This should create a
urgency to help students like Taylor, they are an investment to build
up schools, to model the academic excellence schools are striving for.
Taylor also participates in JIW – Journey Into Womanhood
Empowerment Resources (http://www.empowermentresourcesinc.org/)
That mentors girls and young women in academics and important social
More than 600,000 trainees have graduated from SPACE CAMP since
its opening in Huntsville in 1982, children and teachers from all
50 states have attended SPACE CAMP. Taylor was the only student
from Jacksonville, Florida thanks to her mother that is determined
to help Taylor reach her goals.
Young ladies and young men are preparing for careers not even
created yet, learning skills that will take them into the 22nd and 23rd
century where technologies seen in STAR WARS, STAR TREK, and
even Transformers will be everyday occurrence. Parents must make
the sacrifices and have the determination as Taylor’s parents to open
doors of opportunity to help their children to earn careers in STEM
and STEAM to be the leaders in tech that cities like Jacksonville will
need to lead in the future.
Additional Resource on STEM / STEAM
STEAM and STEM Influencing Civil Rights
STEM / STEAM / CSTEAM / STREAM
The Importance of STEAM Education