After learning the startling statistics about the lack of math proficiency across the District of Columbia, Maryland & Virginia, as well as the sad fact that few organizations offered affordable or free STEM exposure to underrepresented students across the area – something had to change. It was then that a group of parents decided that establishing a volunteer-led Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, Jr. would not only help improve math proficiency, but close the “STEM divide,” by offering an enriching organization that would be open to all students for technical competitions in grades 3-12 from across the DC Metro Area.
Our goal was to offer year-round STEM programming for elementary, middle and high school-aged children, and this desire matched with NSBE’s mission “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community” is what has led to DMV NSBE, Jr.: Dynamic Mathematical Visionaries.
Malene Lawrence’s 7th & 9th grade sons had participated in a highly active & enriching NSBE, Jr. chapter before they moved to the District of Columbia in 2016. “Our sons developed a new-found love of science and math which transferred through to their math & excelled proficiency in school.” Michele Smith, a systems engineer and mother of a 5th grade son who participated in FIRST Lego League, said "the programs in the DMV NSBE, Jr. chapter are designed to expose participants to the exciting world of math, engineering, coding and other areas of science that are not traditionally offered in STEM programs at area schools."
“Mathematics is the key to all other learning. Actually, data shows that when you focus on math, your language arts increases as well,” explained Sehine Gizaw, an architect whose son is a freshman and mechanical engineering major at Cal Tech on a full academic scholarship. Dr. Kimberly Jones, Chair of the Civil Engineering Department at Howard University, “in the 21st century, we need people who are thinkers and creators. We need people to be software and electrical engineers because those roles will be the jobs that are paying a livable wage. African Americans, Latinos and other minorities won’t be part of that if we’re not excelling in math. Mathematics is the key to STEM.” To increase the math proficiency levels, Lawrence, Smith, Gizaw, Jones and their parent board developed the STEM program, which will run year-round from August through May.
An info session was held on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 which drew 300+ students from across DC, Maryland & Virginia’s public, private, and charter schools as well as the homeschooling community – which is often overlooked. In addition to monthly chapter meetings run by a board of student leaders, DMV NSBE, Jr. will also offer weekly sessions of robotics, coding classes, math competitions, tech bowls and monthly field trips. Although this is a volunteer-led organization with parents serving as coaches of competition teams, professionals in STEM fields including but not limited to engineering, technology and aerospace, will also volunteer as instructors, coaches and guest speakers.
Our volunteer parent board has been working very hard to put together this programming and prepare the student executive board to lead this NSBE, Jr. chapter. We have frequent conference calls and meet periodically to not only plan each weekly session, but until we get sponsorship and funding, buy all of the materials needed. As the chapter’s advisors, we’re dedicated and passionate about ensuring that more underrepresented children in the DMV have access to quality STEM programs like the National Society of Black Engineers.
While admitting the new chapter’s year-round program will take a lot of work, the chapter advisors and their team of parent and university volunteers intend to make sure their inaugural efforts attract children to math and other STEM topics. “We’re committed to NSBE’s mission and vision in helping students discover firsthand, how engineering and technology relate to the world around them,” said Michele Smith, “and discovering the excitement of academic excellence, leadership, technical development, and teamwork. We’re trying to get students to see that this is a possibility for them!”
NSBE, Jr.’s PCI, or “Pre-College Initiative,” Chapters serve students in grades K-12 with a focus of exposing 3rd -12th graders to STEM programming to promote a pursuit of a technical STEM degree.
Objectives of NSBE, Jr.
SEEK (The Summer Engineering Experience for Kids) is a NSBE program for students in 3rd-5th grades, designed to increase the representation of Black students in the STEM fields as a way of helping the U.S. remain competitive in today's global economy.
The mission of SEEK is "To increase elementary school students' aptitude in math & science and their interest in pursuing STEM career fields, by having them engage in interactive, team-based engineering projects."
The SEEK Program succeeds in providing:
Can you imagine a world where wanting to be an engineer, astrophysicist or nano-scientist, by children of color is as commonplace as wanting to be a teacher, doctor, or lawyer? This world is becoming a reality through NSBE and NSBE, Jr.
NSBE further works to fulfills it's mission "to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community" by
DMV NSBE, Jr. is 1 of over 50 chapters in Region II; there are several AMAZING NSBE Jr. Chapters around the country (some at individual schools, where you must be a student in order to be a member; and some chapters that are "city-wide," like ours, and open to any student from across the city. Find a NSBE, Jr. Chapter near you - or be a maverick, petition NSBE WHQ and start a chapter of your own!
We'd love to have your family join us, however, if DMV NSBE, Jr. isn't conveniently located near you, check NSBE for another chapter.