Thursday, April 11, 2013

STEM Fierceness Returns!

Happy Thursday!

Note: DONT see the words "STEM" and or "Math" and move on. This video is for EVERYBODY!

It's been a while since I've discussed STEM Fierceness. I've shared my experiences about doing math while Black. I've shared some of my friend's stories of success in STEM fields. I made a commitment to share more about the subject of equity and STEM education, and I want to keep my promise.

The gentleman in the video below is Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Ph.D. in Mathematics, co-creator of the Meyerhoff scholarship, fellow southerner, HBCU graduate, a personal hero of mine, and overall BEAST. Dr. Hrabowski has become well known for producing successful African-American and Hispanic students in STEM fields at his university. I've talked about equity issues in STEM with regard to race, class, and gender, but he does it much more eloquently. Get into it:

Here are my big takeaways:

  • When we talk about African American and Hispanic students not excelling STEM fields, we talking about Americans!!!!
  • Most students, regardless of race, do not succeed in science and mathematics. 
  • The culture of STEM departments on college campuses have to change. Departments that encourage success tend to have students who are successful
  • Students are bored. College courses have to be redesigned to be problem-based and collaborative. Students need to struggle with interesting and relevant problems to be engaged. He calls this "academic innovation." 

In this TED talk, Dr. Hrabowski's gave his 4 pillars of college success in STEM fields for African-American and Latino students (and, actually, all students). They are as follows:
(1) Faculty have to have high expectations and students have to develop the understanding that it takes hard work to be successful.
(2) Campuses must build collaborative community.
(3) Researchers produce researchers. In other words, students have to be immersed in their fields of interest and apprenticed by experts in the field.
(4) Faculty have to be willing to be involved. They have to pay attention to their students and get involved when they see students going astray.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that this issue is extremely important to my purpose and career plans. This TED Talk had been sitting in my inbox for about a month. Shame on me! Dr. Hrabowski has inspired me today, and I hope he does the same for you. Even if your passion isn't STEM, may his enthusiasm and love for what he does ignite your personal passions.

Until next time . . . follow your passions!

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