For example, Banks says he gained confidence in his ability to succeed after Project SYNCERE took fourth place in a robotics competition his junior year. His confidence also grew from the experience of working next to African American instructors like Coleman and Phillips.
“We were able to mentor Banks. We worked with him personally … showing him that there was something else to do. We talked to him about our [jobs at Motorola, and opportunities we had] traveling to China, Germany, and Australia prior to product launches,â€ says Phillips, director of programs at Project SYNCERE. “When we gave him projects, he understood what he could possibly be.â€
Provide Early Motivation
The earlier parents arrange for their children to participate in hands-on, problem-solving activities, the better. By the time most teens are in high school it’s too late to pique their interests in science and math because they haven’t received the skill set necessary to nurture their innate sense of curiosity. By fourth grade, the average student, regardless of race, begins to lose interest in science and math, says Magloire.
“It is not an achievement gap, it is an exposure gap,â€ says Magloire, a former biologist, epidemiologist, and master instructor for the Princeton Review. “The earlier we engage them in STEM, the earlier we encourage those who have that ability and [the more] we will start seeing those numbers rise.â€
With Central Park as the backdrop and ready-made laboratory, Magloire’s New York City summer camp, SciTech Kids, targets children as young as 3 years old to learn about science using everyday items such as soda bottles to simulate tornadoes,Â or tin foil and pizza boxes to make solar ovens. The kids also keep science journals.
Parents can gain feedback about the efficacy of a program based on what their children are like when they return home, says Magloire, who is releasing a book on helping students excel in STEM next year. She says if children are excited about what they’ve learned, talkative, and open to teach the parent or siblings, then the program has been effective in motivating their curiosity in STEM.
Keep Kids Engaged After School
The PISA/OECD report shows that the lack of or inadequacy of science laboratories in schools is another factor that affects a student’s instruction. As a result, parents need to enroll their children in science clubs, excursions, field trips, or science competitions to increase their child’s engagement and performance in STEM. However, Magloire and the Project SYNCERE founders all realized that students are more engaged by hands-on projects.
(Continued on next page)