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ADOPTING INCLUSIVE PRACTICES COULD HELP ADDRESS REPRESENTATION OF GIRLS/BIPOC COMMUNITY IN STEAM

Updated: Nov 15, 2022


Although the unemployment figure continues to be low in the United States of America, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a skill gap in the United States. Many skilled jobs have been left unfilled because million more STEM jobs have been and will be generated than the current rate of STEM job production over the next decade, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.


According to the economic projection by U.S. News, STEM jobs have grown faster (17%) than the current job growth rate (10%) in all other workforces. Employers are looking for people with advanced skills, while job seekers struggle to determine which skills are needed and where they can learn them. According to American manufacturers, finding prospective workers with the skill set required to perform necessary job functions, such as basic math and computer abilities, is increasingly becoming difficult. If this problem is left unresolved, this could compromise manufacturers' ability to stay competitive accordingly.


There is a solution to building our capacity and filling the STEM skill gaps. Because advancements in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields have generated considerable knowledge fueling scientific and technological innovation, we can adopt and implement a coherent, integrated, and interdisciplinary approach in high-school STEM education to address the challenge of recruiting skill workers into the 21st Century workforce, which is vital to the growth, stability, and security to our national economy.


Although, an argument could be made that there has been more being done to funding and improving K-12 mathematics and science education in the United States. For example, the U.S. spent approximately $3.4 billion on STEM education in 2018 Congressional Research Service, https://crsreports.congress.gov. However, additional work is needed to sustain continued efforts to improve K-12 STEM education, preparing students (especially amongst male students of color) to pursue STEM degrees in colleges and to be career ready in STEM fields.


One solution to improving K-12 STEM education, preparing students (especially amongst male students of color) to pursue STEM degrees in colleges and to be career ready in STEM fields, is creating an environment that motivates students' participation through inclusion, equity, and diversity. An environment that fosters inclusive practices and provides equity and diversity in recruiting girls, blacks, indigenous and students of color to develop and integrate STEM skills would sustain the continuous expansion of creative empowerment, good to position our nation to compete in the global market.


Another solution that could help girls and children in the BIPOC communities develop and enhance their acquisition of STEM skills is the adoption of a practical and experiential STEM curriculum standards of learning and teaching like the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to address not only the specific content of each disciplinary content but encourage the overarching ideas of integration the STEM disciplines, inclusion, equity, and diversity in all the 50 states of the United States plus District of Columbia. Using standards like the NGSS to encourage inclusivity, equity, and diversity is a creative approach to using curriculum standards as a framework for addressing the issue of inclusion, diversity, and equity facing K-12 STEM education in the United States and increasing students' interest in pursuing college and careers in the STEM fields.


In addition, when it comes to the representation of girls and students in the BIPOC communities in STEM education and increasing their interest in pursuing college and careers in the STEM fields, parental and community involvement must not be overlooked. A 2018 Bayer Facts survey 2018AnnualReport.pdf(crscience.org) indicates

that school leaders should include family engagement in supporting students in

the STEM pathway from Pre-K through high school. The same study also indicates

that about 60 percent of urban schoolteachers want more emphasis on science education.


As I have mentioned in my previous posting, one-way schools could encourage parental involvement in fostering their Childs' interest in the STEM fields while nurturing their Childs' confidence is through collaboration between educators, parents, and students developing interactive, hands-on activities, field studies, or field experiences within the BIPOC communities. This collaboration and interaction between parents and educators planning cool activities aligned to the NGSS standards and involving the students during parent/teacher conferences, open houses, or school events could help in addressing the issue of inclusion, diversity, and equity facing K-12 STEM education in the United States and increase students' interest in pursuing college and careers in the STEM fields. Moreover, getting the teachers, the parents, and the students to collaborate over fun and interactive activities aligned to STEM-oriented standards could get the parent to ask, is this happening in the STEM classes? I discovered the other side of my child I was unaware of. How can I support my child to develop these STEM-oriented skills?


The Center for Public Education (CPE), a research branch of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), agrees and recommends four STEM strategies for family engagement STEM with Family Engagement (nsba.org). They suggest that schools create a short list of community resources on STEM for students to take home and share with parents. Schools should discuss STEM and the family's important role in STEM education. Schools should encourage parents to foster their child's interest in STEM and nurture their confidence. Then schools should mentor parents to start math learning early and daily (don't forget science, technology, engineering, and reading and writing).


A creative approach like the one recommended by the CPE that encourages collaboration between educators, parents, and children designing STEM-oriented activities creates an inclusive and equitable learning environment that motivates students to take a step forward on the path to STEM careers. Collaboration between educators, parents, and students could even help foster STEM Ecosystems within the BIPOC communities and even unite communities and engage educators and individuals within and outside a formal educational setting.


Are these the only innovative strategy that could encourage parental involvement that could foster and sustain student interest in the STEM fields? No. Rather than just sharing information through web pages or newsletters, such activities also help teachers share educational resources. Another essential strategy for getting parents and the BIPOC community involved is communication through social media about STEM activities in our community schools, job opportunities, and internships in the STEM fields and the benefits. Communication could be done weekly or monthly communication not only through email and newsletters, but class DOJO set up by teachers and social media to create an environment of transparency and help the parents see what the school is doing on STEM education and why.


Furthermore, consistent communication helps parents and the BIPOC community

understand how they can help their children learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in and outside the classroom. Communication could also be done through a survey. This is another meaningful way of collaborating between the school, parents, and the community. Using surveys to gather information on parents' perspective and understanding

parents and community's perceptions and feedback about their children's STEM education and the possible job promise and security could be invaluable in using this data to increase the number of girls and students in the BIPOC community interested in college and careers in the STEM fields. Moreover, this could give educators an idea of the types of training and resources need by the parents and the BIPOC communities.


Finally, another strategy is getting teachers informed and parents trained on what to expect on any new changes in educational policies and curriculum reforms and how to better support their children outside of STEM classrooms with STEM-oriented resources is crucial to getting parents and the support of our BIPOC communities in addressing the lower representation of the BIPOC community in the STEM fields.


Although, some could argue that getting parents to attend training opportunities can be challenging. True, but many parents will listen and collaborate on STEM-related issues during STEM nights or conference days with the right incentives like food, door prizes, free ticket, and inviting their favorite celebrities.


Please let me know what you feel and what you are thinking. These thoughts and ideas are not the only ones.

Authored by Dr. Ayo Olufade

RAISE THE ROOF TO RAISE GIRLS AND BIPOC REPRESENTATION IN PURSUING COLLEGE AND CAREERS IN THE STEM FIELDS! ~ Dr. Ayo Olufade, PhD

Think Integrated STEM Careers! You Have the Opportunity

to Create the Future and The Privilege of Deciding What's in It! ~ Dr. Ayo

Olufade, PhD

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