A new community outreach program based in the Dallas Arts District launched its first-Saturday-of-the-month walks on April 1.
The walkSTEM program is designed to get students, faculty, and educators from all walks of life to see themselves as math doers, learners, and science, technology, engineering, and math practitioners. The event series comes from talkSTEM, a Dallas nonprofit focused on sparking conversation about the diversity of STEM thinking in the community.
Founder and director of talkSTEM, Koshi Dhingra said she wants both kids and adults alike to learn from the walks and connect it to their daily lives. She hopes it can spark more conversations about math and science at home.
“It exists to help us create beautiful things and social equity and solve problems. In today’s world we need to be competent in math.”
“Math tends to have a bit of a branding problem,” Dhingra said. “[It’s] the only academic area that has anxiety and phobia connected with it. It exists to help us create beautiful things and social equity and solve problems. In today’s world, we need to be competent in math.”
Local educators act as docents for the walks. They are given a script and a video to prepare to teach the elementary or middle school level group for the day. The route and lesson plans were created with the help of Glen Whitney, founder and president of the National Museum of Mathematics. Whitney designed a similar walking program at the New York museum.
Docents for the Dallas series come from the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas ISD, area private schools, as well as professors from the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, and the Dallas County Community College District.
“We volunteer because we love this. We practice on our own, then come and rock it,” said Kelly Morgan, volunteer docent and Dallas ISD academic facilitator for math and science. “I came across this and said ‘sign me up!’”
FINDING STEM IN EVERY DAY SURROUNDINGS
Beginning at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the docents take participants you on a tour through downtown Dallas. During the walk, people are prompted to analyze shapes of buildings, multiply and figure out how many stones are on the sidewalk, measure bamboo, and dissect the leaves of a magnolia tree.
TalkSTEM hosted its first tours during a Pi Day event it held March 14. The event helped spur Maria Carrero, a program director for the Young Women’s Preparatory Network in Dallas, to become a docent herself.
“Parent involvement is encouraging,” Carrero said. “You’re not stuck in a classroom, it’s people you’ve never met, and you’re out on a beautiful day.”
Photos by Sarah Bradbury:
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