Recognizing Black Excellence in STEM
February marks Black History Month, a time to highlight accomplishments of the Black community and an opportunity to celebrate leaders who have made impactful innovations in STEM.
While we celebrate these incredible leaders, it’s important to recognize that Black workers are still very under-represented in STEM fields. In addition, students from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, students in Title I schools, and students from rural areas are less likely to attend a school that provides access to computer science education.
In the 2020 State of Computer Science Education report, several research firms analyzed data from all 50 states to provide state by state data on policy trends, maps, state-by-state summaries, and implementation data. North Carolina’s report can be found here.
Key highlights of North Carolina’s report:
- North Carolina adopted K–12 computer science standards in August 2020, as required by HB 155 (2017). Standards within each grade band address concepts of equity, such as bias, accessible Yes technology, and inclusivity.
- North Carolina does not yet require that all secondary schools offer computer science. The state can support the expansion of computer science courses by adopting policies that require schools to offer a computer science course based on rigorous standards, with appropriate implementation timelines and allowing for remote and/or in-person courses.
- North Carolina is a member of the ECEP Alliance, has a CSTA chapter, and Governor Roy Cooper is a member of the Governors’ Partnership for K–12 Computer Science.
- Dr. Mary Hemphill serves as the state’s first director of K-12 Computer Science & Technology Education at the NC Department of Public Instruction.
Digi-Bridge is proud to partner with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and the office of Title 1 and Career and Technical Education to offer enrichment opportunities in computer science. In March, students in our STEAMLab program will engage in a curriculum focused on arts, data and technology. Additionally, our competition robotics and programming teams learn coding through robotics application. It is a priority for us to continue to highlight Black mentors and role models in STEM so our Black students can learn from these individuals.
In Charlotte, we have many Black innovators in the STEM education space. We are proud to highlight a few here:
- Abi Olukeye is the Founder and CEO of Raising Smart Girls, a startup to help bridge the gender and resource gap for young girls in the STEM field. Its flagship product, the Raising Smart Girls online community, offers insights, editorial content and a newsletter for parents, teachers and other adults looking to foster an early love of STEM. Recently, they launched Dear Smart Girl STEM kits and its first offering is an electrical engineering-themed kit designed to be an independent activity for girls ages 8 to 12.
- William (Coach Mac) McNeely is the Founder of Do Greater CLT and CRTV Lab. Do Greater Charlotte is a non-profit empowering communities to do greater by facilitating exposure and access to creativity, technology and entrepreneurship. Funded by donors, grants and events, they are creating a culture of caring that expands access to opportunities. Offering entrepreneurship, technology, and creativity classes, Do Greater is reaching students through their mobile CRTV lab and new CRTV Lab at Shiloh Baptist Church. They will be developing 3,000 sq ft of space into a coworking and colearning space for students. Donate here to provide funds for the build out of the space.
- Khalia Braswell is the Founder of INTech Camp for Girls. INTech understands that engineering, technology, and computer science careers can be a gateway to many opportunities, which allows individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in those fields to increase their upward mobility. Since 2014, INTech has grown across the Carolinas to host experiences in Charlotte and Raleigh through their mini-camps, one-day camps, summer camps, and the INTech Academy, a 9-week program for high school girls. Donate here to sponsor students and purchase supplies.
We’ve also compiled a list of resources to help your family learn about some of the many outstanding Black scientists and inventors.