How to Get Kids Interested in STEM Fields
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Six Steps to STEM
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s  Programme for International Student Assessment (OECD/PISA), when it comes to achievement in science, math, and overall studies, there are six factors associated with academic success among disadvantaged students worldwide:

– Confidence in science abilities
– Motivation to learn science
– Engagement in science activities outside the school
– An increase in the number of science courses students take
– An increase in the amount of time students spend learning
science at school
– Exposure to science-related careers

Coleman and Phillips have been able to apply each of these factors to their own organization. At Project SYNCERE (www.projectsyncere.org), where 100% of high school participants graduate and 90% of them enroll in a four-year university or college, students build robots, program video games, and design 3-D models of tablet computers and smartphones using a 3-D printer, among dozens of other activities. This year students are not only building solar panels to help power the classroom of a local school, but they are calculating the number of solar cells needed to replace traditional energy sources, determining the most efficient configuration to place the cells in, and then building the encasings for the solar panels.

Daniel Banks is an example of how Project SYNCERE helps students. Banks started his sophomore year at Perspectives Calumet High School with a 1.9 GPA. He was absent most of that year due to suspensions from fighting or disrespecting teachers.  “I didn’t think I needed to go to school. I didn’t know anything about what I wanted to do and no one was pushing me to go to school,” says Banks.

It wasn’t until he participated in Project SYNCERE’s summer program that he began to gain confidence in his ability to succeed. He started attending classes more regularly, applied himself to physics class, began taking notes in all of his classes, and entered science competitions. He graduated with a 3.0 GPA and is now entering his sophomore year at Wartburg College in Iowa with hopes of becoming a civil or mechanical engineer.

Build Confidence
Black students lack confidence for many reasons, but in some cases, they psyche themselves into believing stereotypes about which races are capable of being scientists and which aren’t, according to Kim Magloire, founder and president of SciTech Educational Solutions, a test prep and educational consulting firm that hosts a weekly summer camp, SciTech Kids (www.sci-techkids.com).  Parents and teachers should expose black students to examples of successful black scientists; Magloire suggests that students will gain confidence in STEM once they realize that success in STEM has nothing to do with race.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.



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