I just returned from Atlanta where I was the luncheon speaker for Spelman College’s Fall 2012 Girls Leadership Institute sponsored by Spelman’s LEADS and the US Department of Energy.
The focus of the event was to expose middle school girls at schools around Spelmanto STEM workshops on topics such as forensic science, electricity, lasers, and environmental science. Hopefully, this exposure will encourage them to pursue STEM experiences, opportunities and eventually STEM college degrees and careers.
While sharing my story and scientific timeline with them was great, I felt especially prepared to tell them what they need to be doing in present day to be prepared and competitive in STEM. While Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are fun, I wanted them to start using these tools more wisely such as using it to increase their exposure to STEM fields. Below are some of the tips I gave them:
*Develop your own Facebook, iPhone, and other apps.
*Take free online courses in your area of interest.
*Do not fear calculus, physics, chemistry.
*Find a way NOW to relate math and science to something you like (dancing, music, soccer, lacross, basketball, cheerleading)
I even encouraged them to develop middle and high school success plans, such as:
Middle School Success Plan:
*Identify your strengths (English, Science, Math, etc. . .). What academic subject do you enjoy doing and would do without prompting?
*Take Algebra as early as possible.
*Foreign lang (Spanish) fluency. Even amongst minority students, African Americans are underperforming on the SAT and other standardized tests. Some educational researchers think this is because African American students as compared to Hispanic students are not bilingual. If this is the case African American students need to start early making sure they are bilingual. Additionally, the US demographics are rapidly changing and we need to communicate better amongst African and Hispanic Americans.
*Make a tentative but flexible plan for high school.
*Look up college majors.
*Look for and apply to magnet high schools.
*Academic Friday nights once per month.
*Attend STEM activities.
*Have fun too!
High School Success Plan
*Take free online math and science courses (MOOCs).
*Take and practice computer programming in high school.
*Design your own webpage/blog.
*Design a video vignettes of your STEM or other abilities for college your college
*Foreign lang (Spanish) fluency.
*Academic Friday nights once per month because the most competitive kids in the US and the rest of the world are not just watching movies and eating pizza every Friday in their early years. Therefore, when it comes time for them to study on Friday nights in college and graduate school, it is not hard or foreign to them. Underrepresented students who want to be competitive need to adopt these habits early also.
*Find science in you, your life and community.
*Attend college fairs & Homecomings virtually and physically.
I also requested that they read my blog and respond with what they are doing already or after the workshop to work on these success plans. I have already gotten and responded to two emails (shout out to Mari Chiles) but let’s see how many others respond to the blog!
The group of almost 100 middle school girls, included several of my young cousins (Makayla, Denesha, Biannca, Zaria, and Brianna) who also live in Atlanta and need these experiences.