Helping girls overcome the fear of Math

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As a child, I wanted to be a pediatrician because I liked math and science, and wanted to help sick people feel better. This dream lived on for a little while, until I got sick once and realized I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in a hospital!  When I was in the sixth grade, my mom enrolled me in a program called DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program), where I had the opportunity to attend weekly STEM workshops and residential summer camps at local colleges, universities and corporations. I participated in DAPCEP for the rest of my secondary education. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had learned how to write basic HTML code, built a steam car and spent Saturdays learning from engineers at large corporations like Ford. My DAPCEP experience birthed my desire to pursue a career in computer engineering.

I have been tutoring math for 15 years. Over the years, I noticed a pattern: oftentimes, when my middle and high-school aged students needed help with, for instance, Algebra, it wasn’t really the algebraic concepts they needed help with; they were getting stuck on the basics. They hadn’t mastered dividing fractions or multiplying decimals, so solving two-step equations felt like torture. Their mathematical foundation was not solid, and, as a result, they believed that math was hard, tedious and unnecessary. Their math confidence was extremely low and they couldn’t wait to get as far away from the subject as possible. While pondering how to solve for this, I was also interested in the booming subscription box industry. I was familiar with the subscription box model thanks to my husband, who was subscribed to 3 or 4 boxes (he HATES shopping) when we first started dating. I knew I was favorably shifting the math mindsets of my students in Detroit, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to make math accessible and cool for black children on a national scale. I wasn’t exactly sure how to do this, so I began reading academic journals and articles about black children and math to help get the juices flowing.  Once I started researching, I learned just how pervasive the racial and gender gaps are in mathematics/mathematics education/STEM. Black girls are at the very bottom rung of the ladder due to the intersectionality of these gaps. While there is a plethora of STEM subscription boxes on the market, none of them focus primarily on math. With math being the foundation of STEM, I knew I could carve out a niche and reshape the way black girls nationwide experience, perceive and interact with mathematics. Armed with this knowledge, I did what any mathematician would do; I created an equation! Subscription Box + Making Math Cooler for Black Girls = The Black Girl MATHgic Box!