This curriculum grew out of one teacher’s idea: what if we could use the tools of science (data analysis, hypothesis creation, investigation) to examine science itself, particularly through the lens of equity and inclusion? And what if we brought students into that process?
Thirteen years later, that teacher is still doing this unit, and it’s the unit that students respond most powerfully to. Nonetheless, as he wrote about his work and other teachers began to put their spin on it, it became clear that it was even better when teachers modified it to match their community, their interests, and the time they could allot to it.
Since then, this group of educators has worked to create the resource you’re looking at now. We realized it would be most powerful if it was most flexible, if it was set up in a way so that teachers could pick and choose the parts that worked for them, and could easily modify them.
And so the lessons are grouped into three phases:
- Embarcation: exploring the nature of who does STEM (and who doesn’t)
- Fuelling: gaining knowledge about the various topics relevant to underrepresentation
- Ignition: students applying what they learned to feel motivation and take action
Within each phase, you will find one- or two-day lesson plans from which you can pick and choose to match the sort of experience you want to have. Want to talk for one day about implicit bias? We’ve got you covered. Ready to spend two weeks diving deeply into institutional sexism? You can simply use more of these building blocks.
The diverse group that assembled these resources has used them in a similarly diverse range of ways. Some of us teach at wealthy private schools, and some of us teach under-resourced public schools; some of us have focused our conversation on race and some on gender; some have spent weeks on this unit and some a single day. We hope we have created a resource which works for you, whether you’re wanting to dip your toe into conversations about justice or an already-experienced practitioner.
That said, the lesson plans – for now – were mostly assembled by one teacher in one setting (a high school physics class talking about race). As a result, the lesson plans are more focused on that context. We’ve added resources and lessons and a broader perspective where we could, but we had to start somewhere. Our hope and intention is that, over time and with the input of more teachers, this resource will grow richer and more flexible.
It’s an amazing thing, to be writing this letter to teachers we’ve never met. It’s inspiring, to think about how, through our collective efforts, we’re doing our part to improve the educational experience for our students and the culture of STEM for all. By using these resources in whatever way you use them, you’re a part of that, too. Welcome aboard.