In recent years, STEM has become a popular term in educational and professional circles, but it is actually an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas. STEM workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the United States economy and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future. Skilled, passionate workers are needed to enter careers in
science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As these fields begin to grow and more qualified professionals are needed to lead innovation, it has become increasingly clear that recruiting more women and minorities is essential for continued growth and creativity. Historically, these groups have accounted for a small fraction of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, which are often regarded as white male dominated industries. Currently, nearly three in four of U.S. scientists and engineers are white. However, African Americans and Hispanics only represent 11 percent of all STEM employees, yet they comprise 26 percent of the workforce. On January 31, 2017 Rho Xi Chapter hosted a STEM Fair for several elementary students at First Missionary Baptist Church in West Columbia, TX. The
experiments included a crystal ball bubble made from dry ice, smoking bubbles and many more. One of the highlights of the event was Bro. Dr. Calvin Greene, an Environmental Specialist at Dow Chemical and the coordinator of the event, teaching the students how polar and non-polar molecules work together while creating a lava lamp. The number of students at the event that desire to be scientists, doctors and astronauts was encouraging. A wealth of research demonstrates that mentors play an important role in a student’s decision to attend college, enroll in graduate school and choose a particular doctoral program. Role models also directly affect academic performance by reducing stereotypes. Stereotyped individuals tend to underperform in particular environments when worried their performance might perpetuate the negative stereotype. Studies have also shown that a successful role model in the STEM fields can eliminate performance deficits that result from the stereotype. Rho Xi Chapter believes that seeing someone successful, who looks like them can give a minority student confidence. Minority students are less likely to know STEM professionals and may need to look beyond their immediate family or school for guidance. To prevent the STEM field from seeming like unwelcome territory, the Brothers of Rho Xi Chapter that work in STEM fields continuously serve as mentors and role models for elementary to high school aged minority students. “We want the students to be able to see themselves in our roles, follow their passion and be successful,” said Bro. Dr. Calvin Greene. With the current population growing more diverse, and the demand for STEM trained workers continuing to grow, it is safe to say that there are many talented individuals we could be fostering to fill more STEM jobs. Addressing this lack of diversity is key in making the United States a leader in STEM fields. Fortunate for the U.S., there is a great pool of potential STEM talent in America’s minorities.