Pointing the Finger

Over the weekend, I found myself engaging in several conversations regarding the unfortunate loss of life. It was extremely sad news to hear that a child lost his life as a result of playing with an airsoft-type pellet gun by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio. There were many errors at play that led to this unfortunate incident. The obvious is poor communication. The “C” in C-STEM. Poor communication on part of the pellet gun manufacturer, 911 dispatcher, police officer, and parents of the 12 year old boy.

It is seemingly unreasonable to not hold manufacturers of pellet guns that look like real guns accountable for the lives that are unknowingly placed in danger. A news channel covering the story has shared that the type of pellet gun the child had in his possession generally has an orange tip at the end of the barrel indicating that it is not a real gun. I would have to argue that such a minimal indicator is not good enough. Why not an orange safety tip and orange handle? Why not regulate so that pellet guns cannot be manufactured in black or chrome?

The news reported that the orange indicator was not present on the pellet gun and according to experts made it look no different than a real gun. There must be some sort of liability on part of the manufactures designing, building, and selling pellet guns in stores for children. Many of us have purchased toys that have hazardous warning labels on them. I am curious to know if there was a hazardous label on the pellet gun that provided a warning regarding the dangers of removing the orange tip as it could easily be mistaken as a real gun by law enforcement; pointing or aiming the pellet gun at another person or living thing may alarm people around you and place your life at risk; and/or carrying the pellet gun as a weapon may cause someone to feel threatened.

Many of our public servants work hard at developing policy to regulate gun control with NRA. I think it is time for our public servants to work just as hard to regulate pellet gun control with manufacturers. There is an organization called “Mothers Against Drunk Drivers,” and I think this is a fine time to start “Mothers Against Pellet Gun Manufacturers”. It is time that the manufacturers effectively communicate the proper message with the use of pellet guns and design them such that there is no question that it is not a real gun.

I cannot stress the importance of developing the communication skills of children. Because if we fail to do so, they grow-up to be adults that lack effective communication skills. As part of this unfortunate situation, there was a dispatcher that failed to effectively communicate the alleged situation to the officer as it was reported by the 911 phone caller. The individual that made the 911 call obviously wanted the police to know that there was a possibility that the gun could be a fake. However, the dispatcher failed to convey that information to the police officer which heightened the severity of the situation. The dispatcher did not ask any clarifying questions of the 911 phone caller as to why it was believed that the gun could possibly be a fake or if the child was pointing the gun directly at people or if there were other people in the area that were obviously at risk. In the police officers response, it seemed completely evident from viewing the video that the officer did not communicate effectively with the child to gain control of what was perceived to be a threatening situation by the officer. Not to mentioned that the officer perceived a 12 year old boy to be a 20 year old man. As it relates to the parent(s) that purchased the pellet gun for the child, I am curious as to how they communicated with the child the proper way and place to use the pellet gun. As it relates to the school the child attended, I wonder what type of social emotional and character building activities/courses/programs/learning was offered to instill the level of discernment, character, thoughtfulness, and consideration that was needed to help him regulate his behaviors, be conscious of his environment, and aware of how people might perceive his actions.

In closing, I sincerely believe that it takes A Village to raise a child, I am equally curious as to what prevented the person who made the 911 phone call from making an attempt to speak with the boy about his public actions and handling of the gun, after all the 911 caller did not sound frightened, panicked, and even indicated that the gun was probably fake. Further, what prevented the caller from sizing up the situation and exploring options to intervene? I am not saying that anyone should put their life in danger, I am just wondering if the 911 caller ever considered becoming The Village for the child. It is obvious that he needed one.

Problem-Solvers are in High Demand

Engineers are in high demand throughout the world. From biomedical engineers to nuclear engineers. These careers require innovative creative thinkers to solve problems that we have throughout the world. They require higher levels of knowledge in math and science. We need to motivate our students to seek careers that are in high demand by encouraging them early on and doing so as they matriculate through the Pre K-12th grade trajectory to higher education. Their experiences in school need to be relevant, fun, innovative, balanced, exploratory, and interactive. Mostly, they must understand the importance of what they learn and how the information they have can be applied in the world. Children are naturally curious, so why not provide them the tools they need to expound on their natural curiosity. Everything starts from a single idea that you build on with intended outcomes. In many cases, a single idea yields dividends that would not have otherwise availed themselves, had you not taken action. Children are our future and they depend on us to prepare them to answer questions of the unknown and unforeseeable future.

Unable to Serve

I recently received an email that caused me to look at the education system from a different perspective. As a country we are failing to give our students the education that they need and deserve to stay competitive in the world.

There are three main expectations that the military has for someone to join. To be educated, physically fit, and have no criminal history. The first is one of the biggest reasons as to why people are unable to serve in the military. One out of four Americans do not have a high school diploma and even with a high school diploma some still lack the academic skills needed to join the military. The solution is for students to start receiving quality education as early as possible. They must be empowered with good information and have access to opportunities that provides them with competitive skills. Prekindergarten is a very important place to begin strengthening children’s cognitive skills. Studies show that students that start with a quality Pre K education have higher rates of high school graduation and lower rates of crime. I understand that children need hands on experiences early on in their education to engage them and keep them on track. C-STEM provides programs and activities that are hands-on, require critical thinking, problem-solving, and application of knowledge and skills as early as Pre K. We need to focus on what is best for our children as early as possible to prepare them to successfully navigate the maze of life’s journey. To be quite honest, we cannot start to early with educating our children, which means neonatal education is the best place to begin with ensuring that a child’s future is bright and full of promise.

A Right to an Education

This year the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to receive an education.”

Every year the Nobel Peace Prize is given to the person who has done the most for betterment of peace between nations, reduction or abolition of armies, and for holding and promoting peace congresses.

Yousafzai, 17, was shot when she was only 15 by Taliban militants. She sought education but because she was a girl it went against their beliefs and they shot her. Yousafzai traumatic experience did not cause her to waiver from her beliefs towards promoting rights to education for children and woman around the world. After receiving the award she becomes the youngest Nobel laureate ever.

Satyarthi, 60, is an activist against the exploitation of children around the world. He has helped millions of children by mounting raids on factories that forced children into labor as well as freeing and rehabilitating them.

“It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected,” said Satyarthi It will allow for children to learn that education will open doors and will affect generation to come.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/10/nobel-peace-prize_n_5963634.html?ir=World&utm_campaign=101014&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-world&utm_content=FullStory
Source: http://nobelpeaceprize.org/en_GB/laureates/laureates-2014/announce-2014/

Keeping Art Alive using Mathematics

        Art education is important in the development of creativity within children and serves as an outlet for student expression.  When school budgets are cut, art programs are traditionally the first to be eliminated.  All of the talk about STEM has over shadowed the decline of art education programs in P-12 schools.  We believe the integration of art into STEM education is a viable solution.

           Many of our schools face challenges in creating and sustaining quality learning experiences for all children.  The key to getting it right is for schools to be flexible, open to collaborative partnerships, and having a willingness to re-invent themselves.  Simply said, there is no one-size-fit all solution; the development of the right brain is just as important as the development of the left brain.

          In 2007, Reginald Adams, the founder of MOCAH (Museum of Cultural Arts Houston), introduced CSTEM to, “Sacred Geometry – the geometric natural patterns, designs and structures in all forms of life.” Mr. Adams then introduced our organization to Bob Powell, who facilitated a series of math sessions with me and Steve Gomez, a robotics engineer and volunteer from Schlumberger.  During these math sessions he shared with us the techniques he used to assist the world renowned artist, the late Dr. John Biggers’, with understanding the mathematics behind his artistry.   The result of our “Sacred Geometry” sessions led to the development of math lessons that we currently use to teach students how to develop and use geometric shapes to create art masterpieces.

               Integrating art into our curriculum has enabled us to provide thousands of students with little exposure to art education the opportunity to explore, discover, and express themselves creatively.  We use painting and sculpting to help students understand math and science. As a result, we have observed students develop a love for math and science through their art experiences.

           The CSTEM motto, “Everyone is an Artist and an Engineer,” is an attitude and skill that I believe everyone has and applies to some aspect of daily life, work, or a hobby.  The principles used in art and engineering allow people to apply knowledge towards creative problem-solving.  Through STEM education, CSTEM is keeping art alive in our P-12 schools.  It is important that we restore the educational balance for our children.  CSTEM + Art = Future Innovations.