In Maggie Waldner’s elementary school classroom in downtown Denver, math lessons rarely focus on rote memorization. She talks about problem solving and real-world issues, like homelessness. And she makes sure her racially diverse class of boys and girls learns about mathematicians and scientists who look like them. Especially the girls.
This is what culturally responsive instruction looks like in STEM education.
For a while now, schools across the country have used culturally responsive teaching practices in English and history classrooms, engaging learners in the material by incorporating their own experiences and cultures. In science and math, though, it’s a fairly new idea.
But experts say finding better ways to teach STEM to students of color and girls is urgent. While women make up half of the college-educated workforce in the U.S., they hold less than one third of the jobs in science and engineering. Black and Latina women make up just 3 percent of that workforce.
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