WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Ask your typical inner-city 5-year-old Black boy about science or math and the answer may disappoint you. Ask one of the boys in the Little E=MC (squared) Genius Math and Science Program (LGMS) and you’ll get a very different answer.
They’ll tell you about the volcano they built or the airplane they made or their trip to the National Building Museum. They’ll tell you that they like math and science.
For the past 10 weeks, these boys have been a part of a revolutionary program to change their educational future where math and science are concerned.
“Home-schooling can be isolating,” explained the program’s creator Jennifer Muhammad. “This program brings us together each week and is a cooperative effort to teach our sons. We provide the curriculum and the supplies and the moms teach.”
While Sis. Jennifer had a great idea for the program, she married that with another mom, Anita Walls, who is a chemist and created the curriculum for the boys.
“The program has been wonderful. All of the boys are now starting experiments on their own using things such as magnets. They observe and compare like never before,” she told The Final Call.
For the boys it was an opportunity for friendship and fun. Each Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 13 boys between the ages of 4 and 7, gathered at the Hillcrest Community Center in southeast D.C. to engage in interactive science classes that featured experiments, math games, nature walks, cultural learning and field trips.
Another highlight of the program was the weekly special guest speakers, such as Dr. Marcus Alfred from Howard University’s Department of Physics and mechanical engineer Corey Barnette. Rory Muhammad, assistant minister of Muhammad’s Mosque No.4, was also available for mentoring.
For the mothers involved, the program was “an answer to prayers,” according to Sis. Jennifer.
“To see my oldest son sit down at home and teach his younger siblings what he has learned is a priceless moment,” explained Cassandra Burell, whose son Thaj is in the program. “Although my 3-year-old is too young to actually participate, he is his brother’s biggest cheerleader. He’s already looking forward to turning four.”
At the Dec. 2 closing ceremony for the program, the boys dressed in lab coats with nametags. The program included a science fair of exhibits, a demonstration of what the boys learned and special guest speakers.
They began the program by reciting their Little Genius Rap: “I am brilliant. I am strong. My mind is working all day long. I’m from a long line of Black inventors, entrepreneurs and business managers. Genius means that I’ll work hard; I will study and learn my whole life long. I’m college bound and this is true; giving back to my community, how about you?”
“The five key foundational components of the program are academics, leadership, mentoring, culture and interactive learning. Our hope is that, by exposing Black boys early in life to fields of science and math, we can stimulate their interest in the mastery of these subjects, giving them a competitive edge as they venture into the world to realize their educational dreams,” Sis. Jennifer explained to the audience.
The moms were overjoyed to see their “Little Geniuses” on stage.
“I was thrilled and so was my husband.I was so proud of Zion and all of the other Little Geniuses.I could tell he was proud of himself too.Home-schoolers rarely get opportunities such as these to shine and showcase what they’ve been working on,” said Monica Utsey. “Thanks for the vision to have a closing ceremony.Thanks for giving us moms an opportunity to work together and grow together.Little Genius has made an incredible impact on my little one.”
Sakhet Ra Maat agrees. “This has been an experience that truly begins a new journey for Shemssa Senbi,” she said of her son. “It takes his learning style in a different direction. He has really begun to explore more hands-on things around his environment and home.”
The program will be continued in January for another 10 weeks.
(For more information, call Jennifer Muhammad at (202) 215-7768.)