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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Institute blends culture, STEM education for IN youth

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Thursday, April 18, 2024   

The solar eclipse has sparked more interest in science and technology, especially among young people.

But the saying, 'You can't be what you don't see,' is a reality for youth of color considering a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math career.

A 2024 Black Girls and STEM Report indicates this demographic aspires to become astronauts, engineers and more -- but a lack of Black representation can dampen their enthusiasm.

Crystal Morton is the founder and director of the Girls STEM Institute, which offers courses for girls ages 7 to 18.
She said the emphasis is on relevant cultural content and careers for girls who might not otherwise have access to these experiences.

"That might be doing a session on the science of Black hair," said Morton, "looking at different products to understand the science behind how that product is made, and what's in that product or how it may be impacting them. So, we make our own products. You can be able to look at a label and say, 'Hey, I should be able to pronounce what I'm putting on my skin, or in my hair.'"

She said the students quickly get the connections.

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics says about one-third of STEM workers are women. But Black workers make up only 18% of the 35 million people employed in STEM fields.

Morton said the Institute's Saturday programs are in partnership with the Indiana University, Indianapolis School of Education. And in the summer, volunteers engage with students about careers in aviation and medicine.

As a former math teacher, Morton said she believes early exposure to this information is key, and said kids begin showing their curiosity as early as third grade.

"Understanding how things happen with technology, that they all need to have different mathematical levels of understanding," said Morton. "They need to have computational thinking skills, because that's the way this world is moving. And I believe that they do have it -- if you just sit back and watch them play, you see the problem solving happen."

A report on Indiana's STEM education priorities shows the number of undergraduate degrees is up since 2015, but the number of STEM-related degrees awarded hasn't moved much.

Hispanic and Black students earn between 3% and 5% of those STEM degrees. They make up 6% and 9% of the state's population, respectively.




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