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White House to celebrate STEM diversity and ‘Champions of Change’

Patience Edet Goanue | 2/27/2014, 4:56 p.m.

On Feb. 26, the White House honored 10 heroes known as “Champions of Change” for creating opportunities for young people underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries by using unconventional approaches. The honorees used different approaches to enhance student exposure ranging from photography and film to hip-hop music, coding competitions and community-based workshops, according to a press release.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to help restore the United States to its role as the global leader in education; strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African-Americans of all ages; and ensure that children receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a successful career and productive citizenship. The press release also stated, “As part of National African American History Month, the White House Initiative is proud to honor these leaders for the work they do to make these goals a reality and to ensure even our youngest children become not only consumers in our global economy, but also creative innovators themselves.”

The event was closed to the media, but it streamed live on the White House’s website.

Here are the 10 Champions of Change:

Kevin Clark, Ph. D, serves as a professor and director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. The Center was established to leverage the expertise of scholars and industry professionals from across the country to conduct relevant research, design inclusive digital media products and provide access to quality educational resources for diverse audiences.

Clark’s recent activities have focused on the use of video game design to increase interest in STEM careers, examining pathways and best practices for increasing diversity in STEM disciplines and addressing issues of diversity in the design and development of educational media products. In addition to his scholarly activities, Clark has extensive experience as a designer and consultant in the areas of educational video game design, online and interactive media and issues of diversity and inclusion in children’s media.

Christopher Emdin, Ph. D, is an associate professor of science education at Teachers College in Columbia University, where he also serves as director of science education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is also a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Research Institute at Harvard University. In these roles, he prepares teachers for STEM classrooms, conducts research in urban science education and coordinates both the Science Genius Bring Attention to Transforming, Teaching and Learning Science (BATTLES) and the #HipHopEd social media movement.

The Science Genius BATTLES are focused on bringing attention to transforming teaching, learning and engagement in science by using hip-hop culture to create science competitions among youth in New York City public schools. The #HipHopEd movement focuses on engaging the public in conversations about the intersections of hip-hop and education. Emdin writes the provocative “Emdin 5” series for the Huffington Post. He is also author of the award-winning book “Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation.”