The Academy Awards are days away, and they’re bringing pop culture and the future of Scouting to a timely intersection with Black History Month.
The Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures tells the inspiring true story of three African-American women working as mathematicians and engineers for NASA in the 1960s. Their calculations were integral to several historic space missions. By telling part of the history of African-American women’s contributions in STEM, this film is inspiring girls and young people of diverse backgrounds to see themselves in the role of a STEM professional.
Getting kids involved in STEM is a priority for the BSA. You’ve heard me say before how important I think STEM is to young people’s futures and to the future of our organization. Through STEM Scouts and incorporating STEM topics into other Scouting programs, we hope to meet the evolving needs of kids and families and to help kids learn new skills in a fun, interactive environment.
Many young people are doing just that through our programs. At the Frankie Woods McCullough Academy for Girls in Gary, Ind., new STEM Scouts recently competed to build the strongest weight-bearing spaghetti structure. Watching their structure undergo the weight test, 13-year-old member of the winning team, D’Jharea J., expressed “suspense and surprise.” That’s the point of this program – giving kids an opportunity to realize how exciting STEM subjects can be. We want to continue to encourage young people like D’Jharea, and hope to see many Scouts in the next generation of scholars and industry leaders.
As I reflect on Black History Month this year, I’m reminded that by looking to the past, we can all find inspiration for the future.
I hope as you celebrate Black History Month, you’ll take time to learn about the many African-Americans who have made incredible contributions to our great nation and to STEM fields. And I hope you’ll consider ways you can help bring exposure to STEM Scouts to more of our youth, particularly those who come from diverse backgrounds.