[Part 1 ] Mother-Daughter Entrepreneurs Work to Advance Youth STEM Education

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Rachel Williams (Image: Citibabes / Rachel Williams)

The incentivized push to create more spheres of influence around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is now more prevalent that ever. With so many fruitful opportunities, mother-daughter duo Rachel and Kelley Williams aim to ensure that the next generation of students is introduced to these concepts at an earlier age.

Based in Evanston, Illinois, the Williams created The Honey Bee Co., a family-owned and operated business dedicated to inspiring hard work, integrity, and education within the community. Their collaboration has resulted in the creation of Paige & Paxton, two adorable puzzle piece characters that are siblings who embark on adventures fueled by science and technology. Their unique brand of entertainment helps to reinforce qualities that parents and teachers aim to instill in young children today: confidence, patience, dedication to hard work, and self-assurance. Prior to this role, Kelley O. Williams, 26, and a graduate of Howard University, served as assistant vice president of social media at JP Morgan Chase, where she led the social content strategy for Chase Community Giving.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down with both women to talk about their commitment to advocating for STEM education and how they use entrepreneurship to do so.

BlackEnterprise.com: What are some ways that first-time parents can get their child to learn with Paige & Paxton?

Kelley: A great deal of learning takes place at home, and parents are ultimately the most important factor in a child’s academic success. This is so important that my mom and I even conduct workshops that give parents practical tips and tools on nurturing their child’s academic success that they can easily integrate into their daily routine.

One of best things about Paige & Paxton is that they just aren’t designed with kids in mind. We know that one of the biggest challenges with introducing young children to STEM isn’t the children. Often it’s the anxiety that many adults experience when delving into science or math concepts with their child.

Paige & Paxton books and materials help alleviate that anxiety by taking really complex concepts and making it easy for anyone to teach, and not to mention the stories are fun for parents and children to engage with together. We also offer additional support with lesson plans and resources for parents and teachers on topics like: “What is science?” “What is an ecosystem?” and “What is the scientific method?”

One thing that we take pains to emphasize to parents is that it’s not just about your child absorbing the theory of relativity, verbatim. Kids should be able to picture themselves in these fields, and that comes from a mix of exposure and confidence building. You want to drive interest in concepts around science and technology, but also build literacy, enable creativity, enhance critical thinking and more importantly improve their confidence so that they feel empowered to tackle what may feel intimidating. In Paige Finds Her Perfect Fit and Paxton Finds His Perfect Fit, both of the characters fail and learn from their mistakes over and over again, which is a great life lesson whether or not your child ends up pursuing a STEM career.

Finally, parents should make sure that that they have an understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards that your educators should be leveraging—even as early as the Kindergarten level—so that parents can reinforce the concepts at home.

Find out more on how the Williams are incorporating career development into their books on page two …

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