African Americans today are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. According to the U.S. Census, African American representation in STEM has increased from 2 percent in 1970 to 6 percent in 2011. However, that's still lower than the overall representation of African Americans in the general workforce, which was 10 percent in 2011. Black History Month, celebrated every February, presents an opportunity to think about and discuss these issues.
Because African Americans are visibly underrepresented in STEM, it's important to emphasize to students that there are successful scientists of all races and ethnicities. This Science Update podcast collection featuring African American scientists and the Material Marvels video series hosted by engineer Ainissa Ramirez, as highlighted in our first post on Black History Month, are two creative ways to showcase the work of many pioneering black scientists.
Another way to spotlight black scientists is through science books. Maria Sosa, editor of the review journal Science Books & Films, recommends Astrophysicist and Space Advocate Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a biography of the science educator and astrophysicist. Tyson is a great example of a successful scientist and educator: he is well-known to the public (probably including your students!) through popular science TV series like PBS' NOVA and, more recently, Cosmos.
Another book recommended by Sosa is The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner. A winner of the 2010 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, it chronicles the life of Dr. Tyrone Hayes and his work on the effect of pesticides on amphibians. Science Netlinks lessons The Frog Scientist 1: The Mystery of Disappearing Frogs and The Frog Scientist 2: Schoolyard Field Investigation for grades 6–8 provide a great way to incorporate this fantastic science book into your curriculum.
Do you have any similar book recommendations?
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