In addition to studying the implications of how socialization and institutional bias affect outcomes in STEM fields, students were asked to choose a particular scientist, engineer, or mathematician to study and share out their story to the broader school community.
To help students identify people whose stories are lesser-known, as well as encourage them to think outside the usual boxes of who makes an underrepresented scientist, I made a list of scientists they could study, linked to here. When making the list, I prioritized a couple of factors:
- I prioritized people who are still living, so that students could reach out to them if they wanted to, as well as understand that scientists are still doing important and groundbreaking work even today.
- Within each underrepresented group, I made sure each list was less than 50% cisgender men. There is no list of women who don’t have a different identity from the list, even though women continue to be underrepresented in most STEM fields.
- These lists are by no means comprehensive (and there is no way that I could make them so!!). I tried to give my students a rich, diverse, but manageable group of people to choose from when doing their project.
Students’ projects were awesome. They created a 3-5 minute presentation for the class, as well as a small poster that could be put up around the school. The rubric I used to grade them asked them to not only learn about the scientist’s life and story, but also examine the character traits that helped them succeed. I used the VIA Classification of Character Strengths tool to help kids identify the specific ways that their chosen STEM innovator met success. The goal was for students to be able to identify specific ways that any person could succeed in STEM, regardless of their identity or inherent ability.
Here is a bulletin board that shows off students’ work. (My curation notes here.) You can tell that students took this project seriously and put in their best effort to share their scientists’ stories!