By Andre LaFontant
Providence, RI — “I’ve made it my life’s mission to create world-changers, problem-solvers, and innovators by inspiring them to understand that they belong at the table,” states Reverend Rudolph Moseley, Jr., Ed.D—Founder and CEO of the nonprofit National Student of Color Stem Initiative and Executive Director of TIMES² Incorporated in Providence, Rhode Island.
According to Dr. Moseley, the conversations that are had at the kids’ table are just as, if not more important than, what happens at any subsequent seat taken down the line. “If we want to patch up the leaky STEM pipeline,” he begins, “it’s not really about putting STEM programs in high school, it’s about creating more STEM programs at the elementary level. If you expose kids early in the process, their curiosity will drive them to research.” In other words, conscious change in the way science is taught in schools will help to keep children engaged with STEM fields well into adulthood. Emotional intelligence rests at the center of developing young and inquisitive students. “The means to develop an emotionally intelligent leader within STEM fields is through a project-based learning environment,” Dr. Moseley explains. “Students must know that they can’t get from point A to point B without a team.”
“Project-based learning in the classroom is what keeps STEM-related studies relevant,” Dr. Moseley continues. “Students learn most when they are given a problem—like understanding how sickle cell anemia affects their community—and then tasked with designing a solution, working in groups, solving that problem, and finally, presenting their findings.”
The process of ingratiating young people with the possibilities of STEM fields, however, should not be confined solely to the classroom. Dr. Moseley stands firmly by the idea that a more holistic approach is necessary. He states, “Out of school activities are [excellent] opportunities to foster ingenuity; We must structure out of school time purposefully to compliment intentional instruction within the classroom.”
As a father of five sons, one can view Dr. Moseley’s commitment to supporting lasting STEM initiatives for youth of color as an extension of his sense of fatherly responsibility. His vision resonates with themes in the Oscar-nominated film Black Panther, which inspired youth of color across the country to see a place for themselves at the table of science, math, innovation, and influence. As T’Challa resolves, in the film’s conclusion to use Wakanda’s resources to help the world grow and evolve, Dr. Moseley is creating and sustaining opportunities for youth of color to do the same.