The Bright Idea Attracting Students to STEM

with Leal "Al" Smith, Educator/Filmmaker at Pike High School

Indiana Science and Technology

The bright idea that is getting students in Indiana more interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM is not entirely new. In fact, the idea comes from what kids are already interested in…movies. Once Al Smith became aware of this staggering statistic – only 5% of African American students are likely to achieve the STEM readiness benchmark before heading off to college or begin their careers – he took action and developed an idea…or a movie character that is. Smith spoke to the Indianapolis Recorder in July of 2017 and had this to say:

“There is a Luke Cage for an older demographic, but there really isn’t a superhero film starring a minority teen. I really wanted to target minority males and youth, because I feel there is a void in innovative stories.  My overall goal is to create a space for math an STEM in entertainment and to make this material digestible for students.”

Smith is currently in production for his work “The Black Hornet of Flatland Heights”. For more information on the film and other projects from one of the 100 Indiana educators awarded the Teacher Creativity Fellowship from Lilly Endowment, visit Purpix Media.

Interview recorded on August 23, 2017. Hosted by Taylor Bennett. Part I of I.

Read a partial transcript of the interview here:

Bennett: In a 2016 report by ACT, it indicates less than 30% of high school seniors are prepared to study STEM. As an educator, is that disheartening to you?

Smith: I see it everyday, yes. It’s one of those their where they don’t see the connection between education and success.

Bennett: You’re involved in a film project that addresses this, tell me about it.

Smith: It’s called The Black Hornet of Flatland Heights. Without giving too much away the lead character and his science teacher end up forming a bond. They exchange words and create a friendship. In the end, the science teacher turns the basketball player into a superhero, The Black Hornet.