Black and Latino Boys at the STEM of Success | City of Ideas

Posted 01/17/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Children and youth in Boston have limited access to classes and opportunities to explore and become proficient in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math  (STEM).  Several factors contribute to this:

-Budget constraints in urban elementary schools preclude substantive STEM classes or activities. These are often considered “frills” in an environment where success on MCAS determines a school’s success. Although science is now assessed on MCAS in grade 5, urban schools devote scarce resources primarily to instruction and intervention in English/Language Arts and Math.

-After-school programs where elementary students can experience STEM are rare. Where they do exist, they often lack the resources to ensure that children are exposed to meaningful STEM study or activities.

-Urban middle and high schools lack resources (staffing, equipment, funds for field trips) for students to participate in STEM teams and competitions similar to those readily available in suburban schools. These teams and competitions foster creative thinking, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills critical to success in STEM-related and indeed all professional careers.

Project Proposed:
Boston Public Schools Achievement Gap Office (BPSAG), Latino STEM Alliance (LSA), and the Center for STEM Education at Northeastern University and Suffolk Construction will create and support Robotics teams of 10 boys at each of 15 elementary and middle schools in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The teams will build upon the four program goals of the 10-Boys Initiative.  The partnership builds upon successful LSA programs implemented for students in grades 4 – 12 during 2012.  LSA will partner with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and leverage their platform of FIRST Lego League in after-school programs for students in grades 3-8. 
Year One 
-Hire and train teachers, recruit volunteers, purchase equipment.
-Teams solve Robotics problems to develop skills and prepare them for program-wide competition.
-Teams attend statewide FIRST competitions as observers.
-Mentors support team members in every facet of the project.
-Career presentations supplement the Robotics work

Subsequent Years
-Activities of Year One, plus participation in regional and statewide FIRST competitions.
-The goal is to diversify into non-Robotics activities such as National Partnerships for After School Science (NPASS), Real World Design Challenge, Future City,
-Teams go on field trips to businesses and educational institutions with STEM related facilities.

Role of Collaboration:
BPS has a multi-year focus on looking at the achievement of African-American and Latino boys.  BPSAG has been tasked to lead this effort within BPS.  The table below shows the link between the goals of the 10-Boys Initiative (run by BPSAG) (in caps) and the activities which LSA currently does or could easily develop to help meet these goals
10-Boys Initiative (BPSAG) Program Goals        LSA Activities Which Support BPSAG Goals
ACADEMIC TUTORING AND SUPPORT             Technology, math, ELA, problem-solving, and articulation
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL GROWTH  Team-building, minority role models and mentors, field trips 
LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES  Leadership Skill Development as part of the design of activities       
PARENT ENGAGEMENT  parents attend  exhibitions and competitions; possible seminar for parents on the importance of STEM in their son's future education and career choices.
In addition, through the resources available to BPSAG, LSA,  Northeastern and Suffolk Construction, before the end of the first year of this grant, the partnership would host an exhibition of Robotics projects or possibly a competition among the 15 schools.
     Center for STEM Education at Northeastern and Suffolk Construction will provide volunteers to mentor the boys and to attend exhibitions and/or judge competitions.  They will also help identify field trip sites to STEM-related businesses or industries.

The content of the 10-Boys Initiative currently depends upon the interest and resourcefulness of the principal.  This collaboration would enable 15 schools in the targeted neighborhoods to focus their 10-Boys efforts on substantive STEM activities.  Boys participating will also learn to problem-solve in teams and to employ media to articulate their solutions.  Younger students in elementary and K-8 schools would see the products of their older schoolmates, thus generating interest for future participation. Northeastern and Suffolk would offer volunteer mentors, looking for mentors of color.
The  Robotics project complements the 10-Boys initiatives in a number of important ways:
-Stimulate interest in learning science and math by seeing direct correlations to outputs
-Promote teamwork as an alternative to competition
-Provide immediate feedback on risk taking (i.e. try another way)
-Increase skills in technology, math, English/Language Arts,
-Increase self-confidence
-Increase leadership skills

The university and business mentors and field trip experiences may also help expand horizons and expectations.

Schools may benefit from a cohort of engaged youth with enthusiasm for their work.  This may be infectious and create a demand for multiple 10-Boys groups within each school.

Other information:
(Note:  LSA Programs are offered to children of all races in Latino communities).
This partnership would offer students hands-on experiences with STEM.  Comments below attest to the impact of each program.
“Being a part of 10 Boys helped me to grow into a great leader.  In the process, I've also learned a lot about myself.”
  Student, Bates Elementary School

“I feel that the biggest benefit… is you get to work with other students and focus on being a better person.  I also think that this group has helped me become a better focused student.”
Student, Everett Elementary School

“We enjoyed welcoming Latino STEM to Nativity Worcester to kick-off our robotics program at the school through our summer camp… The organization is thorough in its approach and collaborative in its relationship with the school. We are fortunate to have such a great community partner”
Alex Zequeira. President, Nativity School of Worcester

“En realidad pienso que los presentadores estuvieron increíble, las cosas que dijeron. Ellos ofrecieron su tiempo para darnos un consejo y estoy muy agradecido porque es bueno saber que personas que una vez fueron igual que yo, ahora son profesionales.”
Worcester South High student

Primary Contact:
Dr. Carroll Blake is the Executive Director for the Achievement Gap Office of Boston Public Schools.  His office runs the 10 Boys Initiative, including school-wide projects, and operating a summer overnight camp for selected middle-school boys.  His office provides training for principals, teachers, central office administrators around the issues of cultural proficiency.

Partner 1:
Reinier Moquete is the Co-Founder of Latino STEM Alliance.  He created the organization to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue and attain degrees in STEM.  He is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner for Taino Consulting Group.

Partner 2:
Christos Zahopoulos is the Executive Director of the Center for STEM Education at Northeastern University.  The Center for STEM Education has exisiting collaborations with Boston Public Schools, including the Capstone Unique Learning Experience (CAPSULE).  A STEM professor and students from Northeastern assist Latino STEM Alliance is designing curriculum at one of LSA's sites.

Partner 3:
Brian McPherson is the Director of Diversity and Worforce Compliance at Suffolk Construction. An engineer himself, he is committed to increasing the involvement of African-American and Latino children and youth in STEM.
 In addition to being a leader in the construction industry, Suffolk Construction is well-known in the philanthropic community.  Their CEO, John Fish provides the vision, support, and day-to-day leadership of the Boston Public Schools' Scholar-Athlete Program.

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