One Georgia teacher found right in the heart of Metro Atlanta is elevating the voices and engagement of Black and brown students in robotics.
This teacher is proving there’s still more Black achievements to be made in robotics. That’s right! Black and brown children in public schools can be the ones to make history.
Dr. Raymont Burke Allen teaches robotics and engineering in Atlanta. He believes that robotics represents an unique and intricate part of engineering.
“Many Black children show interest in robotics; most of them don’t get to the part that teaches them how robotics is an intricate part of engineering.
Engineering is important for Black students in public schools. It shouldn’t just simply be exposure or an optional elective. We need to be in the forefront of creating advanced technology as well.
However, robotics isn’t cheap, and this leads to a lack of access for Black students! It should be offered as beginning, intermediate, and advanced modules. It should have its own curriculum with required text and resources. School districts should calculate how much this will cost and then work on solutions to cover the cost.
This means public school boards, state boards and local entities are going to have to put money into building innovative engineering programs especially since many of these stakeholders claim that they want innovation in schools.
School districts do not need to struggle alone and should leverage support from Georgia Tech and the Georgia University System for various programming support and training for teachers.
But are STEM programs enough?
I asked the question to the robotic champion who has experience in what it takes to build a sustainable program for public schools. Most of the students have low motivation about engineering. This is because they aren’t connecting how engineering is happening all around them.
The connection piece is a critical component. Dr. Burke states, “My success has been seen in getting all students engaged and excited about robotics, especially Black and brown students.”
Burke spoke to how robotics is reclaiming the interest of Black boys in schools. When implemented successfully, robotics programs can help unmotivated students begin to excel by using various models of technology, training and gaming.
He believes having a robotics department and classes will reclaim not only the interest of Black boys academically but also help retain more Black male teachers because they will have the opportunity to teach more than remedial classes.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.