Booker T. Washington HS, STEM program launch COVID-19 video challenge

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HOUSTON – Booker T. Washington High School (BTW) has teamed up with a nonprofit STEM program to help students and teachers manage the stress of COVID-19, with the cool off viral video challenge and competition.

The “STEM Up With Dr. KiKi” after school program at BTW was in the process of incorporating Social and Emotional Learning Defined (SEL) skills when the coronavirus forced them to close.

“Everyone is dealing with quarantine differently and many may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed,” said Dr. KiKi. “SEL provides our students with the tools to accurately communicate and manage those stresses, but we realized that to help the students we needed to first help the parents and teachers.”

SEL has become a major component of the STEM program at BTW because it teaches the students the techniques to understand and manage their emotions, as well as develop strategies to avoid negative behaviors.

[See challenge video]

Dr. Kiki reached out to the counselors at BTW and created three SEL videos in English and Spanish for the teachers and students to access through the school’s web portal. Each video will focus on different SEL practices including; Self-Awareness (identifying emotions), Self-Management (impulse control and stress management) and Relationship-Skills.

“As a mother, I saw how my children were entertained for hours attempting to recreate the dance challenges and that’s when I realized that we could incorporate the SEL lesson plan into a challenge,” said Dr. Kiki. “After many conversations the counselors and myself decided to make it a competition for the students and teachers to participate with their families and win prizes.”

BTW students and teachers will be able to watch the three SEL videos and create an original video showing the wrong way to respond in a tense or stressful situation and the correct way to respond. Each video can be uploaded to a social media platform with the hashtag #SELCOOLOFFCHALLENGE. A group of local celebrities and community leaders will serve as judges to select the best videos. Two lucky teachers and students will have the chance to win $250 each courtesy of District H Council Member Karla Cisneros and the Harris County Department of Education Case For Kids City Connections Grant.

The SEL Cool Off Challenge aims to put a spin on the original challenge that was created by Grammy Award-winning artist Missy Elliott, to boost the presence of her latest hit song Cool off.

When asked what she hopes the students will gain from this experience Dr. KiKi replied, “I just hope that they understand we all get frustrated and overwhelmed but the best thing you can do sometimes is walk away and cool off.”