The love of STEM (science, technology, education and math) has to start very early in a child’s life. It’s with this in mind that educator Dr. Patrice J. Pinder is teaming up with Dr. Jonathan Wilson, program director of NASA’s K-12 SEMAA (Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy), Maryland campus, to launch a series of innovative, STREAM (science, technology, reading “wRiting”, engineering, arts, and mathematics) educational activities and events. The series will combine Wilson’s NASA SEMAA program activities and activities from Pinder’s curriculum tools and strategies she used at the first National Game-Based Learning (GBL) STEAM conference and Ministry of Education national teacher-training summer workshops to target young learners to get them interested in STEM and STEAM.
“The initiative is designed to pique and retain the interest of STEM and STREAM in early learners, while at the same time focusing efforts on increasing the numbers of Bahamian students to later pursue STEM courses at middle school, high school, and at college – and ultimately pursue careers in STEM,” said Pinder.
“Educational gaming tools and instruments, simulations, and an exposure to new-age 21st century science trends in nanotechnology — nanoscience and nanomedicine — will be just part of this exciting series, which is designed for pre-primary and primary schools, teachers, parents, and children. It will be for The Bahamas, but is open to other places.”
Four components of the series will be teacher-training; parent(s) and child(ren) learning events and fun-filled activities; research development for educators — creating and fostering a “culture of research” in-country; and, provision of creative and entertaining teaching and learning products and tools to enhance a cross-curricular approach in enacting STREAM education.
Pinder and Wilson are of the belief that through their series, on a national level, improvements can made in science, mathematics, reading, and writing test scores; and on standardized GLAT (grade level assessment test) examinations.
“By integrating reading and ‘wRiting’ with STEM and the arts to create STREAM co-curricular activities, this can help to build and improve upon students’ basic literacy, reading, and writing skills, which is critically needed among pre-primary and primary school learners,” said Pinder.
At the same token, Pinder said parents will be exposed to everyday activities and tools that can be used to help their children with their “at-home” learning process particularly during the COVID-19 era when at-home learning has become prevalent. She said simple gaming tools that reinforce children’s learning of math and science concepts will be introduced to parents and children.
Teacher-training workshops will be designed to show educators creative ways to get students hooked on and involved in STEM and STREAM.
The STREAM series will run November 27 through August 31, 2022. It will be held once per month on Saturdays.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative is designed as a hybrid event with 75 percent virtual and 25 percent face-to-face.
“The overarching aim of the initiative is to create among Bahamians, a drive and enthusiasm for STEM and STREAM learning, while at the same time focusing efforts on increasing the numbers of Bahamian students to later pursue STEM courses at college, and ultimately careers. The love of STEM has to start very early in a child’s life,” said Pinder.
“The sobering reality is that our Bahamian educational system and students cannot continuously lag behind the rest of the Caribbean and United States (US). So, our focus has to be how can our children and our education system move forward – and this is where the expertise of myself and Jonathan Wilson come in to assist the nation,” said Pinder, who was recently identified by the American National Council for Black Studies as a “leading scholar” for her work in equity, social justice, and advancing the educational cause of Black and African children in kindergarten through grade 12 schools.
Pinder said she and Wilson are excited to be launching the initiative and are looking forward to working with educators and parents.
Pinder, a professor and doctoral studies advisor with Global Humanistic University, Dutch Netherlands, Curaçao, is also an education consultant, and was recently attached to Ton Duc Thang University as an international research expert in STEM.
Wilson formerly served as the director of the Baltimore Urban Systemic Initiative and catalyzed the systemic educational reform of Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) emphasizing science and mathematics reform. He has extensive experience in developing hands-on, minds-on, content-rich professional development workshops for K–12 teachers.
Pinder met Wilson during the completion of her doctoral studies at Morgan State University. They worked together in 2009 on a previous US National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-funded project implemented within BCPSS. The duo served together on a collaborative project between Morgan State University and Baltimore City Schools, designed to improve science learning among Baltimore City School students. It was an initiative similar to the initiative they are bringing to the table for The Bahamas.
“The overall aim of the NSF Baltimore initiative was to improve teacher training among STEM teachers while at the same time expose them to strategies and tools to improve their students’ learning, particularly among their students of color who are the least represented in STEM,” said Pinder. “So, because of the aforementioned project successes, I contacted him [Wilson] with an expressed interest in us working together again, but this time to assist The Bahamas’ schools, teachers, parents, and children. I felt that our past success with Baltimore City Schools might be translated here as well.”