Harvard Professor Hopes to Inspire Love of STEM through Genealogy

By Holland, Jesse J. | Charleston Gazette Mail, October 31, 2015 | Go to article overview

Harvard Professor Hopes to Inspire Love of STEM through Genealogy


Holland, Jesse J., Charleston Gazette Mail


WASHINGTON - Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. hopes to trigger a love for science, technology and math among American students by turning them on to searching for their family roots. Gates, the Harvard University scholar; Keyser, West Virginia native; and host of a genealogy show on PBS, recently received a $355,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create a genealogy and genetics summer camp for middle school children, and a $304,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for college-level courses.

The summer camps will start at Penn State University and the University of South Carolina this summer, and at the American Museum of Natural History in 2017. The college courses, in biology with a genetics and genealogy-centered approach, will be held at Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta, and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"Ancestry chasing through genealogy and genetics is about one thing ultimately and that is you, Gates said in a phone interview. "And what's your favorite subject? Your favorite subject is yourself.

Gates, host of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS, said the curriculum he is developing would teach social science, history, interview skills, archival skills and biology. The goal is to help students discover an innate love of science, technology, engineering and math that may lead to careers in STEM fields.

Hispanics, blacks, and Native Americans together comprise only 10 percent of workers in science and engineering jobs and 13 percent of science and engineering degree holders, according to the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 report, though they represent 26 percent of the population. …

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