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

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Bank’s distractions began to dissolve as he became more motivated by SYNCERE’s Saturday engineering camp held at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “In a science class in school you wouldn’t build a robot or go through the steps to program it to go in circles, or talk for you, or tinker with circuits,” he says. “The hands-on learning of Project SYNCERE is what really got me into it.”

Increase the Quantity of Classes
If parents want to ensure that a career in science is a viable option for their child, they need to assess the number and type of science classes offered to their child in school.  “In order to build a pipeline of African American students in STEM disciplines, it is critical to address the educational disadvantages in our K—12 system. Even if kids are already motivated, I found they needed to put in a lot more work to catch up with their peers,” explains Magloire.

The PISA/OECD report found that the average resilient student–defined as one who succeeds against the odds–engaged in a larger number of courses than the average disadvantaged low achiever.

As a school consultant helping schools develop rigorous science and math enrichment programs, Magloire found that some textbooks are outdated at elementary schools in many underrepresented neighborhoods. In high schools, Magloire has observed that many minority schools started freshman students out in classes such as Earth science or forensics.  “It’s OK for an eighth grader or a middle schooler, but it should not be a class for a high school student who might pursue STEM in college,” she explains.

Increase the Quality of Classes
Oftentimes, students who are seemingly adept at STEM in high school are still not prepared for college-level coursework. Predominantly black high schools should prepare students who aspire to get a STEM college degree by offering more honors and Advanced Placement classes. Even if a student doesn’t “pass” an AP class with a score of three or more, the experience provides the student with the study skills and work ethic necessary to prepare him or her for college. Also, few African American students realize that colleges don’t require an AP grade for admission, yet they look at students who take an AP class more positively, says Magloire.

African Americans represented 14.7% of the total public high school graduating class last year, but made up 4.1% of the AP student population who earned a score of three or better on at least one exam, according to the College Board’s AP Report to the Nation. Furthermore, 59.8% of all students who take AP exams get a passing score of three or higher. That number drops to 27% for African Americans. “That means we’re really behind if we’re using [AP scores] as a benchmark,” Magloire says.

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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, 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 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 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.