Black Representation: Authoring STEM Stories for Climate Risk Preparedness

Guiding the production of climate media that addresses the needs of Black families and their children.

by Ed Greene
Oct 19, 2023

Black Representation: Authoring STEM Stories for Climate Risk Preparedness (BlackRep4Kids) is a National Science Foundation-funded project led by Knology, in collaboration with the Highlights Foundation, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the Association of Children's Museums. The project brings together Black researchers and practitioners from a variety of fields (including climate science, developmental psychology, informal learning, and children's media) to collaboratively develop methods and strategies for creating children's climate media that helps Black families and their children discuss, prepare for, and respond to a multitude of environmental threats. Though discussions of climate change have become more prominent in storybooks, picturebooks, and audiobooks for children, Black voices, characters, and stories are only rarely encountered in this literature – despite the fact that climate change is disproportionately impacting Black communities. BlackRep4Kids aims to address this lack of representation. Specifically, the project's goals are to:

  • Advance understanding of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on Black communities, and of the innovative solutions Black leaders and communities are creating in response to a multitude of environmental threats.
  • Develop visual and textual storytelling techniquesthat affirm Black life and nurture Black children's relationships with the natural world.
  • Empower media creators to represent Black voices, visionaries, problem solvers, and climate scientists in children's literature.

Over two years, the BlackRep4Kids team will be working together to build a community of practice dedicated to increasing and improving the representation of Black voices, characters, and stories in children's climate media. During the project's first year, we will be creating a publicly accessible resource library that shares information about project-relevant materials and tools and a podcast series that builds awareness of the knowledge and skills required to create quality climate-related media for Black children.

These outputs will help create a shared foundation of understanding within the community of practice, while also igniting conversation at the project's key event: a two-day unconference (scheduled for Fall, 2024) at which Black researchers and practitioners will exchange ideas and collaboratively devise strategies for advancing the representation of Black voices, visionaries, problem solvers, and climate scientists in children's literature. By sharing their knowledge and pooling together their different perspectives and experiences, unconference attendees will facilitate the development of culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate solutions that promote STEM-informed climate awareness, adaptation, mitigation, and resiliency among Black families and young Black children. Out of this will come a comprehensive media makers' guide, which will equip authors, illustrators, publishers, and other content creators with some of the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to increase and improve Black representation in climate-related children's media.

About this Project

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation's Advancing STEM Informal Learning (AISL) program (award number 2314101). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Photo by Kiana Bosman @ Unslpash

This sounds like such an exciting and worthwhile project, no wonder Ed Green won’t be retiring any time soon! It’s inspiring to hear about the connectedness that’s taking hold in this project; the creative ways that ideas and integration of them from different directions will pool together to affect the lives of black children & their futures. Very inspiring!!!
By Shirin Stave-Matias
On Wednesday, November 1, 2023
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