STEM: Are we as a community ready?

Chelsea Jones | 2/17/2014, 9:42 a.m.
Last Saturday, I took my sons to attend the first ever STEM Day in Dallas ISD. It was held at ...
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

Last Saturday, I took my sons to attend the first ever STEM Day in Dallas ISD. It was held at my alma mater, Skyline High School. For those who do not know, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Statistics show that the jobs that will emerge in the next ten years will require skills in one of these areas.

At the STEM Fair, each workshop was designed to show how math, science and technology is used in our everyday lives. I was glad to see that there was a very diverse crowd in attendance, and the African American community was well-represented. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the past. Many Black families have been more likely to attend a sporting event than a math or science fair.

After attending this event, I began to think about something. Is the African American community STEM ready? In other words, are we preparing our children for a future that will include jobs that require skills in math and science? At this time, I would have to say no. The reason is we still have children beyond the third grade who are saying that they hate math and science.

Seeing that this is Black History Month, I thought I would take a moment to share the fact that Black Egyptians were the inventors and first teachers of math and science and used a form of technology that does not even exist today to build the Great Pyramids of Giza. The first schools to ever exist were in Ancient Egypt and many of the Greek philosophers who are credited in history were mere students at the feet of Egyptian scholars.

Getting the previous facts in mind, it is astonishing to think that those who are the descendants of the originators of math and science are the ones who shy away from advanced math and science courses. We as parents have to do a much better job of exposing our children at an early age to STEM-related activities. This will allow them to overcome the fear that many students have when they sit in the classroom and are expected to perform experiments or to solve scientific equations.

Our children deserve to have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with children from other communities. The need to develop critical thinking skills is essential if we want African American children to be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. While it is good to be able to use the computer to Google facts about their favorite music artist or their favorite athlete, that same computer should be used to challenge them to learn facts about great scientists and mathematicians who look like them. We have resources at our fingertips that our ancestors would only have dreamed to have available to them. I challenge our parents, educators, ministers and other community stakeholders to raise the bar of expectations and let’s prepare our children for the world they will work in tomorrow and not the one that they are growing up in today.