Black Panther and Making a Difference in STEM Learning

February 28, 2018

ASM Spring2017 600In the hit movie Black Panther, the fictional Wakandans of Africa establish a center in Oakland, California, to be run by two women, one of whom is a scientific genius responsible in large part for the Wakandans' technological advancements. One might assume that STEM learning, particularly for girls, will form a big part of the program at the center. In real-life Oakland, however, the afterschool STEM program Techbridge is already having a positive impact on girls' lives through equity-oriented "making" activities, as this article from a recent Afterschool Matters journal shows.

And another Afterschool Matters article, on building creative STEM cultures in programs serving youth at under-resourced schools, "revealed five design principles for translating ideas about equitable STEM learning ecosystems into program structures." They include "[engaging] young people in building stories, imaginative worlds, and artifacts that make connections and have meaning across learning settings." One such storybuilding approach "typically involves building an imagined world in which plots unfold across various media as participants not only identify with characters but also add to the narrative itself. Participants can shape the story by adapting it in their own creative writing, as is common in fan fiction." Might the Wakandans provide such a world to spark young people's real-life STEM creativity? How might the other principles detailed in the article apply to your community?

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The Afterschool Matters Initiative is managed by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

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