Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds
I spent last weekend in Wakanda, the fictional homeland of Marvel Comic’s Black Panther superhero. The East African country, a technologically advanced society hidden in plain sight from the outside world, mirrors the world of “Black Excellence” I have lived in my entire life. While the news media and popular culture portrays African-Americans as violent, poor, uneducated, drug-addicted felons much too often, I’ve lived in a world surrounded by highly educated, affluent, civically and philanthropically minded folks. Much like Wakanda, it’s been a world hidden in plain sight.
The vision of Wakanda and the story of Black Panther was the perfect setting for the most recent C3 Expo held at Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church in Riverside on Sunday. C3 Expo, the creation of Kevin Carrington, exposes Black students ages 8 – 18 to science and technology in experiential and fun learning environments. Kevin’s crew of self-described nerds and comic book aficionados includes Mt. Rubidoux’s senior pastor Michael Kelly and Riverside tech entrepreneur Ralph Richardson. This Black Panther-themed experience introduced the field of robotics to the students, who first built and programmed their own robots and then tested their creations on a challenging obstacle course. Talented mentors, who volunteer their time to help the students build and run the robots, power the project.
The previous C3 Expo, the Ironman/Ironheart themed program introduced Scratch coding and GIS mapping to students through the study of seismic events and the construction of rockets that they programmed and then launched. The concept, executed by an expert team that has coalesced around this mission to introduce STEM to our youth, is an innovative approach I am proud to support. Kevin always begins the day by telling the young people that they are the “best and brightest” in the world, and like the people of Wakanda they are the future…the brightest minds hidden right here in our very own community.
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