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Black Enterprise September 2012 : Page 76

EDUCATION MAGLOIRE EXPOSES KIDS AS YOUNG AS 3-YEARS-OLD TO SCIENCE. confidence also grew from the experience of working next to African American instructors like Coleman and Phillips. “We were able to mentor Banks. We worked with him per-sonally… showing him that there was something else to do. We talked to him about our [jobs at Motorola, and opportunities we had] traveling to China, Germany, and Australia prior to product launches,” says Phillips, director of programs at Project SYNCERE. “When we gave him projects, he understood what he could possibly be.” Provide Early Motivation The earlier parents arrange for their children to participate in hands-on, problem-solving activities, the better. By the time most teens are in high school it’s too late to pique their interests in science and math because they haven’t received the skill set necessary to nurture their innate sense of curiosity. By fourth grade, the average student, regardless of race, begins to lose interest in science and math, says Magloire. “It is not an achievement gap, it is an exposure gap,” says Magloire, a former biologist, epidemiologist, and master instruc-tor for the Princeton Review. “The earlier we engage them in STEM, the earlier we encourage those who have that ability and [the more] we will start seeing those numbers rise.” With Central Park as the backdrop and ready-made laboratory, Magloire’s New York City summer camp, SciTech Kids, targets children as young as 3 years old to learn about science using everyday items such as soda bottles to simulate tornadoes, or tin foil and pizza boxes to make solar ovens. The kids also keep science journals. Parents can gain feedback about the efficacy of a program based on what their children are like when they return home, says Magloire, who is releasing a book on helping students excel in STEM next year. She says if children are excited about what they’ve learned, talkative, and open to teach the parent or siblings, then the program has been effective in motivating their curiosity in STEM. Keep Kids Engaged After School The PISA/OECD report shows that the lack of or inadequacy of science laboratories in schools is another factor that affects a student’s instruction. As a result, parents need to enroll their children in science clubs, excursions, field trips, or science com-petitions to increase their child’s engagement and performance in STEM. However, Magloire and the Project SYNCERE founders all realized that students are more engaged by hands-on projects. Bank’s distractions began to dissolve as he became more motivated by SYNCERE’s Saturday engineering camp held at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “In a science class in school you wouldn’t build a robot or go through the steps to program it to go in circles, or talk for you, or tinker with circuits,” he says. “The hands-on learning of Project SYNCERE is what really got me into it.” Increase the Quantity of Classes If parents want to ensure that a career in science is a viable option for their child, they need to assess the number and type of science classes offered to their child in school. “In order to build a pipeline of African American students in STEM disci-plines, it is critical to address the educational disadvantages in our K–12 system. Even if kids are already motivated, I found they needed to put in a lot more work to catch up with their peers,” explains Magloire. The PISA/OECD report found that the average resilient stu-dent—defined as one who succeeds against the odds—engaged in a larger number of courses than the average disadvantaged low achiever. 76 WWW.BLACKENTERPRISE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2012 • PHOTOGRAPH BY RAYON RICHARDS

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