MISSION & GOALS
Not every student wants or needs to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). However - should they choose to - demographics, interests, personality, and socio-economic status should never get in their way. We're building classroom tools to make STEM careers technically and psychologically accessible to all students.
americans who earned physics doctorates in 30 years (1973-2012)
In the 30 years between 1973 and 2012, 66 black American women earned a PhD in Physics, compared with 22,172 white American men.
This is jThis is just one of countless statistics across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields demonstrating the lack of proportional representation across race and gender.
But the lack of diversity doesn't stop there. In addition to perpetuating stereotypes about scientists being white males in lab coats, pop culture continues to paint a picture of scientists as one-dimensional, socially awkward, and dull. This - along with historical mistreatment by STEM professionals, the lack of visible role models, unconscious biases, and peer pressure - contributes to fewer females and students of color pursuing STEM college degrees.
STEM is becoming an increasingly influential force in our personal, professional, and political lives. To ensure that society is shaped equitably by our country's best minds and ideas, it's critical that these fields reflect the multidimensionality and diversity of the American people.
We are building and delivering free, multimedia toolkits to science classrooms nationwide.
These toolkits contain lesson plans, presentations, activities, and discussions to tackle three key objectives:
one: break the stereotypes
Sheldon Cooper. Bill Nye. Albert Einstein. Jimmy Neutron. Doc Brown. Dexter. That guy from Jurassic Park.
When we asked kids to name any scientists they could think of - real or fictional - these are the names they came up with. Not only are real scientists rarely discussed in classrooms, but the fictional ones often follow a set of highly specific and limited characteristics.
The statistics suggest that we've created a feedback loop that's going to be hard to break. Role models matter. Media messaging matters. If kids don't have scientists that they connect to, identify with, or to look up to, they're less likely to see themselves following in their footsteps.
We know that diversity is more than skin deep. We share the stories of scientists who got their start as pastry chefs; failed musicians who followed their curiosity to neuroscience; people who struggle with reading; artists; marathon runners; performers; parents... all of whom followed a unique path to become successful researchers.
We tell the whole story, so kids can feel empowered to write their own.
two: share real world science
STEM is curiosity with a strategic plan, and we need to make sure that we're showing our students what it (and they) can do.
Students can learn to fuse technology and piano-playing to better understand learning. They can build robots that can read your emotions. They can wear a lab coat and wield a pipette, wear scuba gear to study plastic toxins, wear work boots to uncover historical artifacts, or wear whatever they want and write the next line of code that will change the world.
The increasing pressure on educators to produce competitive test scores can strip the fun from STEM and replace it with tedious memorization. The well-established theories that fill outdated textbooks can feel disconnected from everyday life.
We provide teachers with easy-to-implement, customizable activities that bridge science and the real world. We develop multiple options so that any classroom can supplement the curriculum with hands-on experiments inspired by researchers they've come to know.
By sharing cutting-edge science, we're inspiring students to consider where their own curiosities might take them.
three: provide practical tools
Stories and science aren't enough. In order to encourage students across communities to consider fields in STEM, we have to equalize the playing field.
Many modern scientists came from families with researchers, communities with ample resources, and peer groups who are motivated to achieve academically. Some high school students begin working in research labs junior year. Those with college educated parents often discuss strategy and logistics. This creates an early edge for students with the right mentors and models, and little outreach work done to share this insider knowledge with everyone else.
We lay out the many meandering paths that our featured scientists took to get to where they are today. We slip in key nature of science skills and institutional knowledge so that technical details never interfere with a student's chance at success in STEM. We collect, curate, and freely share a digitized database of step-by-step guides, vocabulary lists, and honest breakdowns of what it truly takes to become a scientist in today's world.
Science should not be a privilege reserved for the few, but a right that every student can access should they choose to.