Motivating student success with positive STEAM role models

During their school age years, kids are bombarded almost to the point of being overwhelmed with questions about their futures.  On a daily basis, students field questions about things ranging from what college they are going to attend, to where they see themselves in twenty years.  Twenty years!  Most kids can’t place themselves twenty minutes from their current moment in time.  At this point, I will hold back, because I don’t want you to misunderstand me.  Encouraging kids to think about their futures is not a bad thing.  However, if you don’t provide the student with the proper resources for them to have an informed contemplation, let alone make an informed decision, then you’re doing them a great disservice.

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 There is an old saying that if you’re trying to choose a career, you should think about what you would do if you didn’t have to work.  As I reflect back on the days when I took sayings like this to heart, I instantly remember listing every actor, singer, athlete, and fashion designer that I could think of.  Mainstream media made the individuals working in these professions icons, and for young impressionable youth such as myself and many of my friends, we developed the attitude of  “I’ll just do what they do.”  Great idea, right?  Because surely none of these professions required the individual to work!  As you can imagine, over the years, my viewpoint has evolved into a more realistic understanding of the level of  discipline, craftsmanship, and hard work it  takes to excel in these professions.   

click to watch the video

During their school age years, kids are bombarded almost to the point of being overwhelmed with questions about their futures.  On a daily basis, students field questions about things ranging from what college they are going to attend, to where they see themselves in twenty years.  Twenty years!  Most kids can’t place themselves twenty minutes from their current moment in time.  At this point, I will hold back, because I don’t want you to misunderstand me.  Encouraging kids to think about their futures is not a bad thing.  However, if you don’t provide the student with the proper resources for them to have an informed contemplation, let alone make an informed decision, then you’re doing them a great disservice.

 

click to watch the video

At Genius Plaza, we provide the student with those resources by way of our Learning Champions Initiative.  This incredible program aims to inspire at-risk students by showcasing diverse leaders who look like them and have similar stories, and are currently working in various fields, including STEAM careers.  Learning Champions expose students to their journey from a middle school student to the present.  They share their stories of triumph, sacrifice, and achievement.  They do so while giving the student an in-depth view into a day in the life of their profession.  Teachers leverage the multiple resources that come with the profiles, including animation for younger students, video interviews, six leveled eBooks in English and six in Spanish, vocabulary sets, exercises, worksheets, and virtual reality of their workspaces.  In addition to inspirational content, the Learning Champion sets provide autobiographical content and innovative resources which teachers can use to drive engagement with students.

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I have had the opportunity to interview many of these Learning Champions.  More importantly, I see the impact they are having on students, who now have access to not only their stories, but to the opportunity to learn about different professions, and even experience firsthand where these Champions work through VR video.

With all our Learning Champions and our Genius Plaza team, this is done in hopes of inspiring future generations while closing the achievement gap across the globe, one child at a time, one click at a time.


Black History Month: Celebrating Today’s Leaders

Black History Month: Celebrating Today’s Leaders

“I always want to be a leader,” 

Kenyana Caesar, Senior Manufacturing Engineering, Johnson & Johnson

This month, we join the Nation in paying tribute to the men and women who helped, and are helping, shape our country. Our African American Learning Champions are contributing everyday to our efforts to ignite the genius in every child.

We focus on profiling diverse professionals in STEAM careers throughout the year as part of our efforts to provide access to information on these professions.  We call these leaders our “Learning Champions,” and we hope they inspire students to become doctors like Lynn, engineers like Sherman, or scientists like Norris.

Bryan and our other Learning Champions share key insights like this one, and talk about their journey, their families, about overcoming failures, and about enjoying their successes.

“I have been to China, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, and every time I travel I take a deep breath and I look around, and I am like, ‘I am here…I’ve done this.” 

– Dr. Bryan Baugh, Global Medical Affairs Leader Infectious Disease and Vaccines, Johnson & Johnson

In addition to video interviews, educators and parents have access to eBooks at six reading levels in both English and Spanish, vocabulary sets, exercises, and even an animated video to begin exposing students to potential careers at a young age. These non-fiction stories have a great impact on all students as they see leaders who share similar experiences, who look like them, and to whom they can relate.

 

Our goal with STEAM careers content is to close the achievement gap by exposing students to fields and professions they may not have heard of, or don’t believe are for them. Learning more allows them to dream big, while providing teachers and parents with the tools and resources to ignite the genius in every child.

 

When you hear our Champions speak, you can’t help but be inspired, and ultimately, we hope to create the next generation inspirational leaders to follow in the footstep of Learning Champions like Lana, Bryan, and Noris.