STEAMing of HBCU’s in the 21st Century
by William Jackson, M.Ed.
STEAM Educator – Duval County Public Schools
STEAM is a growing educational initiative that encourages
hands-on learning that is student centered in learning
and teachers as facilitators not lecturers. The involvement
of Scientific inquiry using experimentation, integration of
diverse Technologies to meet the needs of diverse learning
modalities, using design strategies for problem solving in
Engineering, recognizing the importance of the Arts in
dynamic brain function and even applying Mathematics to
encourage higher order and critical thinking skills.
HBCU’s or Historically Black Colleges and Universities have
for years encouraged STEAM education. The educational
models have been separated by traditional teaching styles
and strategies, but with the changes in integration of tech,
collaboration and cooperative learning it is important to
combine learning strategies.
HBCU’s have a unique opportunity to serve with great
potential students who have a passion to be involved
in STEAM careers. STEAM and STEM careers are growing
because the use of technology allows for new directions of
research, discovery, creativity and innovation. The historical
significance of HBCU’s is their service to prepare “Students
of Color” with marketable skills to compete globally, establish
partnerships that are international.
The truth is still important that HBCU’s service “Students of
Color” that white colleges and universities do not consider
As in the traditions of the past; Timbuktu home to a 25,000
student university. Where learning was involved long before
Europeans were even reading or writing.
As a graduate of South Carolina State University, HBCU
institutions still understand the need for tutorial, mentoring,
monitoring and collective services that guide students to
educational obtainment to the goal of graduation and employment.
Students in today’s higher educational institutions must take
advantage of the resources of HBCU’s that are not offered at
other institutions. Recently Florida A&M University Engineering
Department was honored because of its diversity in
supporting women in the fields of Engineering.
The same field that I’m working to encourage and excite my K thru
fifth grade students to embark on.
The opportunities that HBCU’s present are too often over
shadowed by larger universities, the quality of educational
obtainment is no less and often better because of smaller
class sizes and the personal connectivity students receive from
instructors. Stated by Decatur B Rogers, executive assistant
to the President for Science, Technology, Engineering and
Math (STEM), “If this country wants to remain competitive,
then we must continue to train our students to be competitive.”
The last 10 years have seen a growth in the effort to augment
the diversity in STEM and STEAM fields. There needs to be an
increase in graduate degree enrollments and HBCU’s must
prepare underrepresented minority groups in STEM and STEAM
fields. One of the important ways is to encourage more STEM
and STEAM educated and trained teachers in these areas
willing to be teachers. Sharing their knowledge, passion and
skills to educate generations of new STEAM and STEM career
minded youth of color.
As an Engineering and Technology teacher at a dedicated STEAM
and Title One school my mission is to set a foundation of learning
that is based on integrating elements of diverse instruction to
embed in students at the elementary level the potential of
educational success and optional career choices. My efforts as
a teacher, African American teacher and male teacher
(which is becoming a rarity) prove that diversity is needed in the
classrooms of schools to inspire and offer role models to students
HBCU’s must be adaptive and flexible in its curriculum to provide
the best educational models that lead to viable careers. Even the
absence of careers allow for new career opportunities to be
developed by entrepreneurials with vision and 21st century skill-sets.
These skills increase economic stability, research opportunities and
international networking alliances.
Through the years the threat of extinction has been faced by HBCU’s;
with the efforts of curriculum changes, engaged and knowledgeable
faculty, national and international collaboration and working with
public, charter and private schools HBCU’s will provide the men and
women that will be the future leaders in STEM and STEAM.
Public education must provide opportunities for creativity in
instruction as they implement curriculum that set the foundation
for students from elementary school to high school. These students
will be enrolled in HBCU’s as thousands continue to do so.
I’m a proud parent of a soon to be FAMU graduate, my son is majoring
in Biology (microbiology) with a bright future in STEM and STEAM.
There needs to be a continued effort to meet the needs of
African American males to be educators, engineers, scientists,
explorers and innovators. To ignite the fires of learning in
“Students of Color.” HBCU’s must take hold the responsibility to
educate future generation of “Women of Color” and guide them to
contribute to society.
HBCU’s are a reminder that for “Students of Color” their
institutions are unique and vital. Just as Timbuktu was a
scholarly center in Africa during the 12th century. It was a
place of learning, educational obtainment, scholarly discussion
and attracted many religious scholars opening the
understanding of religious tolerance.
HBCU’s are still vital in the 21st century and create a culture
similar to Timbuktu where prosperity of the city attracted
Africans and Arabs then Europeans who were both scholars
HBCU’s attract diverse cultures because of its welcoming
atmosphere and non-judgmental pattern of acceptance of
other cultures. This is not always found at traditionally white
It should be known that “People of Color” are decedents of
scholars, business men and women, traders, royalty and
adventurers. The Golden Age of Africa when books were
written before Europe was even reading, in Timbuktu,
books were imported and copied. Educational resources
of advancement was ongoing in the city. The universities
and libraries contained unparalleled scholarly works.
HBCU’s are decedents of Timbuktu and other scholarly cities
in mission and principle so Historically Black Colleges and
Universities have a reason and purpose to survive and be
of service to communities that still desire learning and
growth in the 21st century and beyond.
STEM in HBCU’s
Gifted Blacks In STEM
The Good News About HBCU’s
Timbuktu Heritage and History