Friday, March 12, 2010

Black History Month Week 4 (a month late)

Black History Month is over but I needed to get in one last post, although late. If you remember as a child there were cartoons about this mystical and rich place with the funny name called Timbuktu. Well it's a real place. It was for centuries the center of learning for the African Muslim empire. Europe had Athens, Africa had Timbuktu. It is well worth the read to study the different universities and academia that were there. It is located in Mali on the Niger river, currently inhabited by Songhay, Tuareg, Fulani, and Mande people. It had one of the first universities in the world and a written tradition for Africa. Manuscripts have been found that contain writings on astronomy, music, botany, law, sciences, and history. All of this on what Europeans once called the dark continent. African Americans come from a rich, ancient history. We should acknowledge that we weren't just made for sports and entertainment. We should embrace our diversity.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Black History Month Week 2

Dr. Mark Dean should be an inspiration to all African American children who love computers. He could transform the enthusiasm from online games to creating apps that could be used world-wide. This was done by a Spelman student currently on the Spelman Robotics team. Last year, the co-capitan, Jonecia Keels, created an iPhone app, iDex, for gamers of the Pokemon game franchise. The app gets downloaded about 1,500 times a day and she probably makes money off of it.

Dr. Dean graduated later in life with a PhD from Stanford. He is the first African American fellow of IBM; he is one of 50 that are elected by the company. He has also been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for creating a system that allows PCs to be used by everyone in their home. Don't forget to tell you children about Dr. Dean, a modern day history maker.

Black History Month Week 3

Dr. Etta Z. Falconer (1933-2002) was a Callaway Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College until her retirement in May 2002. She earned her PhD from Emory University with a dissertation on “Quasigroups Invariant Under Isotopy,” directed by Trevor Evans. Dr. Falconer served Spelman with distinction for 37 years, contributing vision, leadership, and tireless energy. She initiated and led numerous projects which have increased the participation of women, African Americans and other under-represented groups in mathematics, science and engineering, and continue to have far-reaching impact today. Programs on campus which have benefited greatly from her efforts include the Dual Degree Engineering Program, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholars Program, and the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) Program. She was a founding member of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM).

Throughout her career, Dr. Falconer demonstrated an unwavering commitment to diversity in the sciences and the mathematical sciences. In response to receiving the 5th Annual Louise Hay Award from the Association of Women in Mathematics, Dr. Falconer said, “I have devoted my entire life to increasing the number of highly qualified African Americans in mathematics and mathematics-related careers. High expectations, the building of self-confidence, and the creation of a nurturing environment have been essential components for the success of these students.”

Black History Month Week 1

In honor of black history month I will feature African American scientists, engineers, and mathematicians and their accomplishments. I will try to make entries more frequent than weekly because there are so many accomplished folks.

I have recently read about Shirley Ann Jackson, the first woman and African American to graduate with a PhD in physics. She accomplished this in 1973 from MIT. She is currently the 18th president of Rennselaer Institute of Technology. She continues to advocate for the increase in the number of women and minorities in the sciences (she took accelerated math and science classes in high school).

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Stay tuned for new posts in the new year. I have joined twitter but I need to update my account. Sometimes I feel like the more we try to simplify life, the more complicated it becomes.*Sigh*

This idea would be perfect on twitter - We need to start challenging the children earlier to solve problems. I am going to try to give my daughter who is in grade school the chance to solve a problem that takes longer than a day to figure out. When she experiences the joy of figuring it out she will know that any high school question should be a cinch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creating a Creative Child Part 2

I got this from a newsletter I receive from Quality Care for Children.

Foster Your Child’s Creativity!

Children are naturally creative. You can help them maintain and expand this creativity into adulthood.

There is a strong correlation between stress and creativity. The more stressed you or your child are the more difficult it is for you to solve problems. When you are relaxed, you can see creative solutions to problems you are facing.

Creativity improves your child’s self-esteem, motivation and achievement. When you encourage your child to think creatively and independently, your child is likely to become interested in discovering things open to new ideas eager to work with others to explore ideas willing to work beyond lesson time at school to pursue an idea or finish an activity As a result, their pace of learning, levels of achievement and self-esteem increase.

When you encourage creativity in your child, you are also helping your child become more resourceful. Resourceful children:

--have the ability to meet challenges in a variety of ways
--learn to trust their instincts and unique abilities
--acquire a positive attitude toward problem solving
--tap into the joys life has to offer

Children need responsive adults willing to nurture and stimulate their creativity. If you encourage your child to be creative, you bestow a gift money cannot buy.

What To Do to Encourage Creativity:

Encourage curiosity and seeking answers. Respond to your child's questions by saying, "I don't know. How could we find the answer?"

Don't stifle and numb creativity with too many manufactured toys. Resist buying your child every accessory marketed with the latest movie. Let your child stretch his or her imagination by finding dress and play props.

Value varying ideas and opinions. Encourage brainstorming by saying: "Well, that sure is one way of looking at it," or "What a GOOD idea, I've never thought of that before.”

exploration. Make specific, motivating comments, such as: "How interesting; you created a secret passage-way with the blocks."

Stimulate imaginative, independent thought by posing questions. In projects, avoid telling your child exactly what to do. For instance, when you are working together to make a bird feeder say, "I wonder what would hold the cracked corn and sunflower seeds?"

perfectionism. Don't take over your child's project because you can do it better or faster. (Of course, you can!) Respect the learning process that takes place while a project is made.

Encourage humor. Humor helps your child take joy in his or her creative intelligence. Laugh together often.

Facilitate play; do not dictate it. Your child gets a big boost from your getting on the floor to play. During play follow your child's lead.

make-believe games. Pretend that you are a monkey. Or pretend to be machines like a lawn mower, popcorn popper or leaf blower!

Provide a safe place where your child can explore a variety of art materials and be messy. Offer recyclables such as paper and cardboard with crayons, chalk, markers, glue, stickers, finger-paint, clay etc.

Make homemade instruments and put on a concert. Be accepting of all compositions.

Make room for movement so your spirited child can show off grace and energy.

Change the endings of well-known stories. "What is another way The Three Little Pigs could end?"

Unfortunately, “creativity killers” are commonplace in our schools and homes.

Hovering over your child: Your child’s risk-taking and creativity will go underground and hide.

Evaluating every activity: Your child will ignore the satisfaction with his or her own accomplishments.

Rewarding every action: The excessive use of prizes deprives your child of the intrinsic pleasure of creative activity.

Competing: Putting your child in a win-lose situation, where only one person can come out on top discourages creativity.

Constantly telling your child how to do things leaves your child feeling like originality is a mistake and any exploration a waste of time.
Restricting choice: Telling your child which activities to engage in limits curiosity and can diminish creative passion

Huge expectations for your child's performance can instill negative feelings for the subject or activity.

Make some time this week to explore a creative project with your child and just have fun!

For more information, see: 20 Ways to Encourage Children's Resourcefulness and Creativity by Karen Stephens and Creativity Killers: Discouraging Creativity in Children by Leslie Owen Wilson

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dreams Part I

I have been remembering some of my childhood dreams. I just need to reminisce. When I was younger, Chinese and Korean children would go to Saturday school. Why can't African Americans have Saturday school too? What do you think?