Four generations of accomplished African American male STEM role models, passionate about science and technology, come together to share their powerful stories of success, the impact that being a minority has had throughout their STEM career journey, and their personal insight into why African American male role models are so critical to inspiring and guiding the next generation of leaders during The Color of Science program, April 1-2. Now in its sixth year, The Color of Science is designed to increase awareness of the significant contributions that women and persons of color have in science and technology, and illuminate the need for diversity within the scientific and engineering arenas. The two-day free event provides direct exposure to some of today’s most influential and proficient scientists and engineers, spotlighting their successes while showcasing the infinite opportunities available in a wide spectrum of STEM fields. Each year, The Color of Science chooses a theme, and in 2016 The Franklin Institute is highlighting African American males in response to President Barack Obama’s mentoring initiative, My Brother’s Keeper.
“President Obama issued a call to action to America’s leading organizations and The Franklin Institute through The Color of Science program is responding,” explains Dr. Frederic Bertley, Senior Vice President of Science and Education at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, who conceived of The Color of Science program. “Our hope is that by showcasing a range of four generations of accomplished African American role models, their various struggles and the hard work that led to their success, not only will young boys and men of color see that there are ladders of great opportunity and that they too can build their own future, but the larger society will see that these role models exist and hopefully this will also inspire others to recognize the great value of becoming a mentor.”
The event begins on the evening of Friday, April 1 with a powerful discussion among the four generations of inspiring role models. From an astrophysicist to the inventor of the electret microphone (used in all cell phones today), to the Senior Vice President of the United Negro College Fund, to a young budding engineer who came through the ranks of The Franklin Institute’s Youth Programs; the four featured scientists/engineers openly share personal stories of their STEM career journey before engaging in a group discussion around the pressing need for positive male role models for today’s African American youth, followed by an informal public reception.
The event continues on Saturday, April 2 with Your Passport to the Color of Science, an expanded spectrum of diversity around gender and race, where the Friday night panelists join a wider range of scientists and engineers at stations throughout the museum exhibits to engage visitors and invited students in demonstrations that represent the foundational concepts of their specific area of expertise. Among the 10 scientists participating on Saturday are The Franklin Institute’s Environmental Scientist, Dr. Raluca Ellis, Forensic Scientist Antoinette Thwaites, and GE Design Engineer Ginini Vitucci.
The Color of Science is developed and presented by The Franklin Institute in partnership with The Garvey Institute, with support from the PNAA Foundation, The Lomax Family Foundation and The Franklin Institute’s youth programs, a suite of science enrichment, career development, and youth leadership programs available to under-served students in the Greater Philadelphia region. Since its inception in 2011, the program has seen tremendous growth with iterations taking place in cities across North America and Canada.
“We have fantastic scientists of color dating back to George Washington Carver, Madame Curie, even Albert Einstein – these are amazing people, but they have all passed, and if you are trying to excite a young population you need find people that look like them who are breathing, living and walking around our communities,” said Bertley. “That’s what the Color of Science is about. And, I have to tell you, to see the ‘aha’ moment in these kid’s eyes is absolutely precious. They are so excited and they believe they can become the next engineers and scientists to help make our world a better place.
I think we should let these people see these role models, in these great careers on this broad medium so that so many more can see what goes on in science and technology and kids can become excited about that.
The Color of Science two-day event at The Franklin Institute includes:
Friday, April 1 | 6:00pm
One-on-one conversational interviews and an intriguing panel discussion moderated by The Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts featuring:
Dr. James West, Engineer, Inventor
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
2010 Benjamin Franklin Laureate
Dr. Larry Gladney, Astrophysicist
Associate Dean of Natural Sciences
Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Chad Womack, Scientist
Director, STEM Initiatives
Mr. Kirk Butler, Mechanical Engineer
Senior Field Engineer, PCL Construction
Franklin Institute PACTS (Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science) youth program alumni
Saturday, April 2 | 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Your Passport to The Color of Science
Accomplished scientists and engineers stationed throughout the exhibits to engage and interact with invited students and visitors.
9:30am: The Color of Science Laboratory
Students and young museum visitors travel through the museum receiving passport stamps as they take part in science demonstrations by a number of leading scientists.
12:30pm: Lunch-to-Go with the Scientists (invited students and youth groups only)
Students grab a snack to eat and mingle with the featured scientists and engineers before they explore the rest of the museum.
The event on Friday is free and open to the public, however space is limited. Advance registration is required; please visit https://www.fi.edu/color-science. Saturday’s lunch is for invited students only; museum visitors are invited to interact with the featured scientists throughout the museum. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.