STEM / STREAMing and STEAMing Black Children
Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics
meets Science Technology Reading Engineering Arts and
The recent Google Talk hosed by Dr. Mike Robinson
brought STEM / STEAM experts together to speak on the lack
of involvement of Blacks in STEM / STEAM and a growing
educational initiative STREAM:
Dr. Nicki Washington
William Jackson @wmjackson and Dr. Nicki Washington @dr_nickiw
Re-Defining The Narrative: Minority Students and
STEM/STEAM – Raising the awareness for Black children to
enter in the fields of Science Technology Engineering Arts
Mathematics for career options and a focus of awareness
during their academic years has raised challenges and concerns.
“Every educational initiative for Blacks begins as a “grassroots
campaign” to build awareness and support for needed
change that will benefit Black children.” William Jackson
Changes in education are seen in the implementation of
new learning curriculums, integration of technology,
multi-disciplinary curriculums, blended classrooms and
differentiated instruction that attempts to meet the needs of
Classrooms of the 21st century are diversified and teachers are
working to provide the best instructional curriculums that are
aligned with instructional standards and assessment benchmarks.
The premise of how important parents are should not be forgotten,
one of the most important issues in teaching is that parents should
know how STEAM supports curriculum and what is STEM /STEAM / STREAM.
To be successful and make academic change children’s academic
success should be the priority with parental involvement and
engagement not just viewing of testing data; although testing data
is important to gauge learning strides.
A national discussion includes the view of testing/assessment to
help guide learning, directing learning by the rise and fall of scales,
rates, levels and percentages from assessment data.
When implementing and integrating STEAM in the classroom it
should be a vehicle that encourages and reinforces learning in the
classroom and school. The use of STEAM is not just for games,
coloring pages and puzzles. STEAM has value and service to
teaching so learning is dynamic and interactive with critical thinking
and higher order thinking skills applied.
The ultimate goal of all learning is that it can be applied outside the
classroom, in the learner’s daily life and applied to future careers even
though those careers may not be created yet. The power of STEAM
can be seen in educational reports that show increasingly careers are
changing and adapting to the infusion of STEAM elements.
Educators and parents are learning that even “grade-school kids may
end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet. The help of parents
that reinforce learning at home through visits to museums, local libraries,
theme parks like EPCOT, and other educational and cultural settings
helps to bring exposure to Black children.
Black parents must see a greater purpose behind them being their
children’s first teacher and educational role model. Black parents
cannot have the view point that they will leave all educational exposure
to schools because the years from 1 – 5 are vital to set an educational
foundation. Denying learning in these important years is similar to
educational child abuse, cultural neglect and parental abuse for Black children.
The development of a child’s social and emotional intelligence is
important because these make a tone for understanding why school
is key, why teachers are educational saviors when parents neglect to
If Black children can learn the value and empowerment of education
early they will appreciate academic rigors, rituals and routines.
Black parents don’t have to have a degree in education to create
related school concepts in the home. Using math in cooking, science
in the backyard or park, history in conversations with grandparents
and even explaining how video games work, Black parents introduce
thinking skills that benefit their children and expose them to life-long
Black parents must understand the value their kids receive
from STEM / STEAM / STREAM and using technology to help their
children prepare for careers. Even in early learning and VPK centers,
schools gradual introduction can come in strong literacy programs
teaching that reading is fun, empowering and engaging. Early exposure
to reading is vital for 3 to 5 year old children particularly Black children
because it prepares them mentally to conceptualize the concepts of
a STREAM environment.
Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics and even STREAM
Science Technology Reading Engineering Arts Mathematics
Black parents need to gain an understanding that even living in poverty,
they should work tirelessly to make sure their children escape generational
linkages to lack of education and living in poverty and impoverished communities.
Sports and entertainment are not the only avenues for Black children other
areas that have STEAM elements; medicine, science, law, research and
development, computer science, astronomy, oceanography, architecture and
engineering are careers that Black children can excel in.
Cathy N. Davidson, of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning
has stated that 65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work
that hasn’t been invented yet.
Black parents should be preparing their children for a world of cognitive skills,
intellectual discussion, scientific engagement and learning to love math.
Black parents must stop criticizing schools when learning is tough and
challenge their children not to quit, give up and feel defeated.
Teachers need to be cautious in punishing Black students for blindness
from lack of exposure, this should not happen in classrooms so teachers need
to integrate digital tools like Youtube videos to show “worlds” of learning.
Learning can be made to be relevant by finding and bringing in speakers of
color to show Black children that there are successful, intelligent, and productive
Blacks in careers.
Black teachers should not be scared to make learning culturally
relevant, they do not have to be experts on Black history to exposure
Black children to STEAM and Blacks involved in STEAM careers.
The contemporary American classroom has changed and teachers must change
as well. The inheritances of ideologies and thinking from the late 19th century
do not work any longer. As 21st century post-industrial-era classroom educators
we must integrate technology because classrooms are training grounds for
future workers that will not be in factories, but in STEAM careers and competing
globally. When educators and administrators of all colors criticize Black children
they are blinding themselves to a world that would benefit from this untapped
resource that the world can benefit from.
STEM / STEAM knows no color, but if Black children are denied the access to
strong educational resources our nation is weakened in comparison to other nations.
The STEAM classroom should teach the skills that come under career
The growing area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
are being taken over by international youth, are our minority youth only able to
use these technologies in games and social media platforms?
Listen to the broadcast online: Living Education:
Re-Defining The Narrative: Minority Students and STEM/STEAM
Host Dr. Mike Robinson for a live Google Hangout discussion on the paucity of
African American students in academic STEM programs and careers.
William Jackson (@wmjackson) and Dr. Nicki Washington (@dr_nickiw)
#BLACKandSTEM, @BlackVoices, @JoinBBC, @theBlackManCan, @asktnd, @BlerdMedia,