Students, SPS personnel contribute to new STEM book

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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Monday night saw Suffolk Public Schools launch a new book edition designed to further students’ education in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly called STEM.

Gathering at the Old Dominion University Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center officials unveiled the fourth edition of “STEM Century It Takes a Village to Raise a 21st-Century Graduate: Suffolk Edition” during an open house event July 31. Suffolk Public Schools is the first school division to publish a book in this series.

Written in partnership with 21stCentEd, an organization providing comprehensive STEM education, the Suffolk edition includes contributing SPS authors — five of those being student writers.

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The launch also served as an open house to present various STEM-based technology, such as a digital anatomy 3D printer from Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium and digital ship building technology from VMASC’s Virginia Digital Ship Program. 

In his opening remarks, 21stCentEd Founder and Chief Executive Officer Marlon Lindsay, who also contributed as an author in the book, stressed the importance of getting students ready for a robotics and technology based society.

“We have to make sure our students are ready to thrive in a world like this. We created it, adults,” Lindsay said. “We need to get them ready for it. And so we have to talk about it.”

He said that’s what they are doing in the book.

“We’re talking about the problems that we’re facing – the inflection point that we’re in,” Lindsay said. “Then we have to make sure that our young people have access to all the technologies, all the education, all the resources that they need to not just survive what’s happening, but to thrive in a post-automation, robotics, AI world.”

Along with some of the SPS division authors, student writers Alexis Griffith, Alexis Perkins, Raven Cooper, James McFarland and Ramirsjae Young attended to mark the occasion and sign free copies of their books to attendees of the event. 

Young said their contribution was a “great accomplishment.” When asked how they hope their work will impact students who see their accomplishment, 

Griffith said she hopes their work inspires their fellow students.

School Board Member Judith Brooks-Buck, Ph.D.noted how proud she is of the students’ contributors, saying that they are impressive. Additionally, she pointed to the importance of getting students ready for success. 

SPS Superintendent John B. Gordon III, Ph.D., who also contributed to the book, explained the process of getting Suffolk’s vision on STEM education, along the importance of including the student voices.

“To me, the biggest and most significant part was I wanted to get their student voice in there, which is the reason why we have five student authors,” Gordon said. “But as you divide the book into sections, you can kind of see as transitioning little narratives that we kind of included.”
He noted that Lindsay wrote a chapter to give the global perspective, while Dr. Okema Branch, Ph.D., Maria Lawson-Davenport, Ph.D., and Katelyn Leitner, Ph.D., wanted to show this new instructional model where we’re implementing STEM into all curriculums — not just science and math, but also physical education teachers.

“We think it’s going to help with robotics, we think it’s going to help with esports,” Gordon said. “Just different things to really give our kids more hands-on experiences.”

Copies of “STEM Century It Takes a Village to Raise a 21st-Century Graduate: Suffolk Edition” are now available through CISTEMIC Publishing and can be purchased for $9.99 on paperback and $2.99 on Kindle at


Editor’s note: Updated first, second and last passages at 7:02 p.m., Friday, August 4 to reflect clarity and additional purchasing options.