And responding to Nettrice's ideas and comments, I have just copied the
teacher, Mr. Aringo, who is working on STEAM teaching at Hoover MS in San
Francisco, the first middle school in our city to introduce a full STEAM
The hacking culture here, especially in education around science has
proven to be highly resilient, innovative, cross disciplinary - I'm talking
about programs, for instance, in youth tech and science offered through the
Cal Academy of Science, and various other institutions which are leading
new perceptions, and professional development pathways for teachers,
towards science, art, and technology; that they can be taught together.
Those hacker/teachers are getting together with academically oriented
administrators such as Carline Sinkler who is Principal of our school, to
propose programs such as the STEAM elective for middle school age children
at Herbert Hoover Middle School.
Mr. Aringo is a minority himself and a teacher, who apparently approached
Ms. Sinkler to propose the STEAM program. She then helped come up with the
funding. I see this as being "a pulse" of several positive new trends in
education where technologies are being implemented, such as "flipped
classrooms" affecting traditional methods and pedagogies here in San
Francisco, retooling "old ways" with highly innovative and fluid "new ways"
of doing disciplines.
How does this translate directly into what the kids get? At Hoover there
has long been a history of technology. The school has been known for having
a lot of technology before other schools did. Curiously, the parent and
teacher community went through a phase of questioning whether all this tech
was good for "real" learning, before the current influx of iPads into
classrooms across the city and many schools having to get involved in
technology; the District upgrading its School Loop (home school tech
connection) and so forth. At Hoover we also have Spanish and Cantonese
immersion programs making up more than two thirds of the students per
school day, which means that a) cultural issues involving language, art,
social studies, history are already at play - not sure whether they do low
riders...(smile) but that would be a good idea...and b) traditionally under
served and under-technologicalized populations (according to 2007 study of
digital divide by the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Dept. of
Technology in SF) of families gain access to technology tools, internet
literacy, and so forth through this unique public school.
What they get in terms of curriculum in STEAM, I'm only beginning to
discern, as my student started this year and its still early, but so far,
the presence of "games" not as anathema to intellectual competence - the
classic stereotype of the video gamer - and use of architecture like roller
coaster design in the curriculum has piqued my interest at least for its
appeal to popular culture which the kids get their heads around, rather
than some alien "educational" concept or "high art". Mr. Aringo was also
trying to start a club for boxing at the school, a popular sport in the
The suggested direction of moving curriculum away from convention towards
more appealing, culturally relevant uses of technology as a way to engage
minority students in STEAM or STEM is absolutely essential, I feel, if we
hope to gain any intellectual and creative parity i.e.not simply "access"
parity, or "job training" parity. Please see my SEAD white paper
"Environmental Equity: Enabling Excellence in Media Arts and Science among
Underserved Communities" which was used to recommend ideas to the NSF and
NEA here in the States. In that paper I argue for equity in access to media
art and digital technologies such that underserved communities have a
fighting chance in informational arenas when it comes to health and
environmental activism. And I underscore the art part, because this is
where a gap lies - "job training" is learning MS Word, while STEAM is
learning to create and to think, to program and manipulate the screen.
I want to end with a project I found last week where three African American
teens girls engineered an app to record interaction with police.
you can find something about it at that link.
so, we must also be doing something right! young people are indeed being
exposed to thinking with technology and they are learning from young and
gifted teachers who are passionate about hacker culture and the fluidity of
more research into the kinds of tech innovation in creative pursuits - in
art, music etc - from minority artists and musicians could only enable
teachers to support the work they are being asked to do on a daily basis,
which is to work with underserved populations in the school districts and
to teach kids something they can identify with, rather than what will bore
molly hankwitz, phd
media and communications
technology and art/consultant
On Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 2:52 AM, Nettrice Gaskins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Annick's question illuminates an important point:
> "is it a matter of 'exposure to art' or 'belonging to the right classes,
> the right networks, having confidence, and the right skin color?'"
> Based on the statistics, the answer simply might be, "Yes." According to
> the U.S. Dept of Labor (in 2012), less than 5% of minorities go into STEM.
> Many enter STEM programs but do not finish. Something is turning them off
> to STEM even when they show interest in it early on.
> Some minority students need role models who inspire them to pursue
> STEM-related careers but what if there aren't any role models who reflect
> the growing underrepresented ethnic population in a school program?
> One of the reasons I point to the arts (and humanities) is because it
> captures the interests and skills of minorities, including women and other
> minority groups. In my research I have identified several professional
> artists of color who employ STEM concepts in their work but these examples
> are often excluded from STEM and STEM to STEAM discussions.
> It's not a challenge to engage artists in STEM. However, It is more of a
> challenge engaging STEM in the arts... and even more so in the cultural
> Why are we not talking about rapper GZA's collaboration with physicists?
> Grandmaster Flash's use of scientific method to engineer the cross-fader?
> Or the use of DIY (do it yourself) production in underresourced
> communities? Mexican students involvement in lowrider culture as an entry
> to robotics/engineering? Sun Ra's experiments with the minimoog or John
> Coltrane's interest in quantum physics?
> GZA, a high school dropout, always had an interest in science but he never
> made it into science until now. In GZA's own words, "I recently met with
> quantum physicists who deepened my interest in the cosmos and gave me
> further inspiration for this next album" GZA said in a press statement. "I
> want to take my listeners on a journey through deep space and deconstruct
> the idea of science fiction."
> Some STEM educators may feel that the cultural arts are antithetical to
> STEM. However, GZA's music and the other examples are shouting, 'Look! Here
> are opportunities to engage underrepresented groups.' Others in STEM
> education simply don't know how to find these examples but keep coming back
> to the increasing disengagement of minorities in STEM.
> *Nettrice R. Gaskins, Ph.D.*
> STEAM Lab Director
> Boston Arts Academy
> http://nettrice.us • http://netarthud.wordpress.com
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