(ES)2 STEM Learning Lab

About the lab

The (ES)2 STEM Learning Lab conducts research centered around the STEM learning of students of African descent. Specifically we focus on STEM education as a vehicle for improving the social condition of African people. Areas of work in this research program include:

*Development of socially transformative STEM education materials for K-12 students and teachers,

*Explorations of what happens when students and teachers encounter socially transformative STEM curricula,

*Explorations of the conditions that mitigate against socially transformative STEM education, and

*Advocacy for curriculum, instruction, and educational structures that are conducive to socially transformative STEM curricula.

Featured research (4)

As a fifth-year teacher in an urban middle school, I have become keenly aware of how important it is to provide my students, who are predominantly African American, with culturally responsive classroom experiences. In this application of socially transformative science curriculum, I began with a traditional lesson on atoms, molecules, and compounds and modified two activities within the lesson. Explanation (20 minutes) The explanation portion of the lesson is aimed at facilitating students' understandings of the differences between atoms, molecules, and compounds. To begin this portion of the lesson, students are provided with a Venn diagram featuring bubbles for molecules, compounds, and atoms as well as brief descriptions of each (see Figure 2). [Extracted from the article]
This chapter examines the various ways that systemic racism works to shape the STEM research workforce of people of African descent. The interest driving this work is not a desire to have “representative” numbers of African STEM professionals. Instead, the driving interest is to provide a detailed description of the dynamic role that systemic racism plays in making the African STEM research workforce look and function the way that it does.
This mixed methods study reports data from the implementation of a 2‐week nanotechnology camp for secondary level students. The camp, Nanotechnology Experiences for Students and Teachers, had the overarching goal of increasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) interest among the next generation of potential STEM professionals. Statistical pre‐ and postsurvey data indicate that overall the camp was successful in fostering increased STEM interest among participants. However, early analysis of ethnographic data showed that African American students were observed to have radically different experiences than the non‐African American students. To better understand why the camp yielded such divergent outcomes, we examined ethnographic data focusing specifically on incidents of microaggressions. We were particularly interested in the impact that microaggressions had on African American students’ camp experience and learning. Our data show that microaggressions were pervasive; they came from students, instructors, and the environment; and in response, African American students adopted detachment‐coping strategies. Together these factors worked against African American students’ success. We conclude with suggestions for practice.
This chapter is a description of practice grounded in the idea that the primary problems Black children face in schools are political problems. The chapter articulates three aspects of science education that should be reconceptualized if we are to adequately address these problems. These three aspects are: the purpose of science education; science content; and the role of the instructor. The theoretical foundation for reconceptualizing these three aspects of science education comes from Goduka’s (2005) articulation of eZiko, Mutegi’s (2011) articulation of socially transformative STEM curriculum, and Codrington’s (2014) work on liberatory education. Drawing from this theoretical foundation, the chapter illustrates the how science educators could reconceptualize the purpose of science education, science content, and the role of the instructor by describing a year-long project in which three, high school-aged, young ladies and one university professor worked collaboratively as science writers. Through the Black Kids Read - Science Writers project, these young ladies took on the task of authoring science-oriented literature for elementary-aged children. [The book can be accessed at].

Lab head

Jomo W. Mutegi
  • Department of Teaching & Learning

Members (2)

Crystal Hill Morton
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Cianna Anderson
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis