FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Two Fulton County High School teachers have launched a nonprofit called Culturally Relevant Science that’s geared toward making science more relatable for students of color.
"Teachers who teach students from various backgrounds, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, you look on the Internet, you don't find those things that represent those students," said Tamir Mickens, a Fulton County High School physics teacher.
"When we all shifted to virtual education, I'm searching and searching for things that I believe will catch their attention, and I can't find it," he said. "So I had to start creating it."
Mickens started creating videos that incorporated references and characters that were more representative of his students.
"I saw a change, a great interest," he said. "They were asking and wanting more of that.”
Mickens' school is made up of roughly 95% Black students. He said he feels the majority of available educational material is geared toward White students.
"The students that I have now, they don't identify with that. It can cause disconnect," he said.
Meagan Naraine, a Biology teacher at the same high school, noticed the same.
“Historically and traditionally it is White people that have created the textbook companies and all the content that we teach in the public schools, so that is just the blatant reason why there's no representation," Naraine said. "The biggest thing you hear from students is 'How does this relate to me?'”
Naraine started making her own videos. She says she immediately noticed her students were more engaged.
"The more that I get the students to feel comfortable what they're working with, whether that is throwing them into an experiment or telling them a story of an African-American person in science history, their engagement and their achievement skyrockets," she said.
Naraine and Mickens decided to join forces and launch Culturally Relevant Science, an online hub of science lessons that are more relatable for students of different backgrounds — like affordable home experiments and cartoons sprinkled with Gen-Z humor.
Naraine and Mickens are doing it all on their own time and their own dime, fundraising as much as they can to keep the lessons free for everyone.
“You don’t want teachers to have to pay for these things," Mickens said. “We could either just complain that, yeah, we don't have representation, or we can make it and make it available.”
A lesson in adapting, and being the change.
“That's what's most important to us," Mickens said.
Naraine says with more funding, they'd be able to make even more content. She's hoping community sponsors might want to get involved to help students afford the items needed for at-home science experiments.
To donate, click here.