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

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The first year after she helped to install AP classes and train teachers at the Eagle Academy for Young Men in New York City, some 25% of students at the Eagle Academy received a score of three or better. Also, compared to students in that year’s cohort who weren’t exposed to AP classes, Magloire’s AP students were more prepared for the rigors of college, and were accepted to higher ranking colleges, some receiving full scholarships, she says.

Expose Kids to Professional Careers
The involvement of corporate and professional organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers is another necessary element that further contributes to an increase of African Americans in STEM–not just financially, but through job shadowing and mentorship programs. Students who regularly interact with professionals often feel stronger connections between STEM lessons and their career pursuits, and may, in fact, perform better in school, suggests Coleman.

For example, last fall, IBM Corp. partnered with the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and the New York City College of Technology to launch Pathways in Technology Early College High School. P-TECH’s graduates can receive both their high school diploma and a free associate degree in applied science in computer systems technology or electromechanical engineering technology, and are first in line for consideration for entry-level positions at IBM.

None of the students were hand-picked high achievers. Ninety-two percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 85% of the student body is African American. Yet, the attendance rate was 94.2%, and 98% of students promoted from grade nine to 10. Seventy-three percent of students passed both the English Language Arts and the Integrated Algebra regents exams. “In year one, students get more time in English and math, which are huge building blocks for STEM majors,” says P-TECH principal Rashid Ferrod Davis, who formerly ran the Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy.
Davis says that the pipeline to STEM is a three-ringed approach that involves colleges, industry, and support organizations. Schools, he believes, should attach themselves to organizations and corporations that have a proven track record of steering students in the right direction.

To succeed in STEM-related fields, students need effective science and math instruction, inquiry-based teaching, academic advising, social support, and mentors, says Magloire. Not one of these elements alone will work on the population of K—12 African Americans students. But without such efforts African Americans are slated to take a permanent second-class station not only in the innovation economy, but in America.

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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.