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Hidden Figures, a best-selling read by Margot Lee Shetterly and an Oscar-nominated film, is changing how we understand the history of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Often, the stories of scientific discoveries and engineering feats omit the contributions of women or people of color and obscure the knowledge and experiences, both lay and professional, required to achieve STEM accomplishments. The usual discourse of STEM deemphasizes the social-historical context that creates the conditions for innovation of personnel (the who), process (the how), and product (the what).

Shetterly provides an alternative narrative as she shines a light on the people, places, and purpose of STEM. She features African-American women in her historical storytelling of the US Space Race and the Civil Rights Movement. Her personal and professional stories of women, like Kathryn Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson exemplify African-American women at work in NASA as mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers. These women fully participate in the practices of STEM as they perform computational analysis, program mainframe computers, and conduct engineering tests. She explains how war, racial segregation, and sexism at home and in the workplace limited how African-American women participated in STEM and conversely, created a window of opportunity that amplified their contributions to STEM, in particular the rise of US Space Program.

Mary Jackson: Engineer and Inspiration

Image of Mary Jackson, Credits: NASA,

While Shetterly’s biographies of these women position them as pioneers of the space frontier, it is the story of Mary Jackson on the homefront that captured my attention and inspires my work. (more…)

Happy bluNew Year! Yay for Year 5!

January 13th, 2016 | Posted by etate in Education - (0 Comments)

As I pen my first blogpost of 2016, I am energized by a sense of accomplishment and filled with anticipation of what’s next for
bluknowledge. As the founder of this small, still new business, I am happy to report the start our 1 . . . 2  . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5th year of business and tireless commitment to empowering communities through STEM education and community engagement. Given the significance of Year 5, the accomplishments of bluknowledge seem worthy of note and sharing.


Since the start, bluknowledge has worked with over 30 clients and community collaborators to shape conversations and learning experiences around social justice issues such as (more…)

chat boxes of different hashtags to indicate conversation


Over the past decade, our community spaces, such as schools, museums, youth centers, and even workplaces have been co-opted by a learning revolution. At work under multiple aliases, such as Design Thinking, STEM or STEAM, Makerspaces, and yes Hacking, this revolution has called for us to re-examine our notions of teaching and learning and reimagine a new approach to preparing learners of all ages to link learning to local change and global innovation. 

As this movement unfolds, the headlines

  • predict our need for STEM careers in order to be globally competitive
  • necessitate critical thinking (a byproduct of STEM learning, making, and design thinking) as a means to navigate daily life and civic choices
  • call for the transformation of schooling into rigorous, relevant learning environments. (Note, this goes beyonds individual teachers and their classrooms and distributes the onus among decision-makers, such as administrators and policy makers.)

Whether or not this learning revolution is televised (or streamed via mobile devices), how will you change the narrative of your classroom to prepare learners for the 21st century?  (more…)

In my first ever blogpost, Transformers . . . More than Meets the Eye, I gave a “shout out” to Parent University for its role in shaping how parents transform communities.

Every month or so, Parent University repurposes a local school as a learning environment for parents. Course topics range from encouraging baby babble to improving your child’s reading at home to managing household finances. Through this experience, parents demonstrate to their children that school represents more than a weekday chore centered on teachers, books, and tests. They reinforce the notion of school as a cornerstone in our community and a place of possibility. — excerpt from Creative Coast blogpost: Transformers . . . More than Meets the Eye, May 2013.

Almost a year and half later, my relationship with Parent University has grown from an enthusiastic advocate to a facilitator of sessions that helps parents and caregivers create a home environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity. This Saturday, my relationship gets another boost as the Savannah Business Group partners with Parent University to host the Parent Summit for Child Wellness. The Summit, which happens during Parent University, offers parents and community members the opportunity to participate in special workshops that promote child wellness at home, school, and in the community.

So, how did we get to this point? (more…)

Learner-centered experiences are critical to education reform, especially when the learners are teachers.

For many decades, policymakers and researchers have debated and even experimented with the best ways to educate schoolchildren. Whether we aim to create a skilled workforce, enterprising entrepreneurs, or compassionate public servants, schools take center stage. Often, the performance of education reform casts the adults in the school buildings as administrators and teachers with ever-expanding roles as enforcers, social workers, and dream makers. Although these adults have undergone character development that rivals the complexity of Shonda Rhimes’ leading ladies, we seem to reserve the role of learner for students only.

While achievement for ALL students remains the primary outcome for schooling, public or private, teachers shape how young people imagine, understand, and navigate their worlds. Therefore, if we wish to establish a culture of achievement and instill a sense of purposeful lifelong learning, we must rewrite our scripts for schooling to nurture teachers as professionals, and more importantly as learners.  (more…)


Last month, radio producer, Orlando Montoya interviewed Dr. Erika Tate, CEO of bluknowledge, for his new audio productions site, Savannah Podcast. Listen in on what proved to be an enjoyable conversation about how her love of community informs her lifelong learning philosophy and inspired the lean start of bluknowledge.

Source: Orland Montoya | Savannah Podcast

Be sure to also read Orlando’s article, Consultant Links Classroom and Community. (more…)