Use Students' Cultural Experiences

In order to ensure that STEM lessons are centered around the students, lessons should be created using students' cultural experiences.

Photo of Yvonne Thevenot, M.Ed.

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There exists a need to generate more interest within urban youth in the STEM subjects. In addition, there is a need to improve upon urban youth’s knowledge acquisition of concepts found in STEM curricula.

The problem is that STEM curriculum is steeped in the framework of traditional, Western culture and lacks content that is steeped in critical or culturally relevant pedagogy. The result is that teaching strategies around STEM content in even the most inclusive of classrooms often become ineffective in fostering urban youth’s passions for the STEM subjects.  In addition, the majority of teaching practitioners do not have the necessary tangible tools to deliver STEM content that contains a critical pedagogy framework.

Solutions to this problem are not widespread, well known, and consequently lie within individual teachers’ heads. This is the primary challenge.

A first step to connecting students' experiences to the content you have in your curriculum is by spending time with the student in their culture.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: connect to the parents through digital media, spending time in the students' neighborhoods, asking students to bring in photos of their activities they do with their families and in extracurricular activities, and a host of other ways.

Click here for a more in depth unpacking of this idea:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S-E2dRF1-b0JaGreOo1A8W0VgHUJVclwsjrfvi3YkmM/edit?usp=sharing

Click here for a preview of the prototype:

https://stemkidsnyc.mybalsamiq.com/projects/thebridgetostem/prototype/Bridge%20To%20STEM?key=d22f1d6c39fd74d6a61e9fad381626a9c3c334e2

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Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

Great activity that gets students thinking deeper.

We have a large hispanic population that is from Central American countries. These students are growing up on farms or in cities where they didn't have electricity.

How could you make a product that uses electricity or a modern day item and make it so that it doesn't need electricity or have them find an alternative.

Photo of Yvonne Thevenot, M.Ed.
Team

Trever Reeh , thank you for your post! Are you wanting to make a product that's free from electricity as a way to address building sustainable products, or are you wanting to build it because the students may lack the funds of knowledge around electricity?  In Africa, there are Amit of inventions that are created without the use of electricity, and some aid in farming, providing solar powered light to supports students in their completing homework at night, and a host of other ingenious makes. The guild should bring in these teachers and other groups to support your question. Look up Soccket. It's such an awesome concept that combines play with generating light for villagers.

Photo of Yvonne Thevenot, M.Ed.
Team

If I may add to your post, Trever Reeh , the development of lessons that support the cultural experiences (and funds of knowledge) of the students also gets the teachers thinking deeper.

Photo of Yvonne Thevenot, M.Ed.
Team

Trever Reeh , would you mind contributing your ideas on my team?  Your input and experiences 'on the ground' would be helpful. Also, I'd love to prototype a solution and see how your students would respond.  Will you join?

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

Yes I will join! Tell me what I can be doing to help.

Photo of Yvonne Thevenot, M.Ed.
Team

Trever Reeh , I would love if you could join my prototyping team and provide ideas on how further to flush out the idea. 

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