Black Gems in STEM

About the workbook…

Black Gems in STEM is an academic success workbook, designed for students in grades 4 and 5, though a great resource for elementary and middle school students. The purpose of the workbook is to foster the cultivation of future leaders in STEM by: 

  1. strengthening the students’ core fundamentals of education (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and
  2. featuring Black people in STEM who can serve as role models for our children.

Each section of the workbook consists of: a biographical passage; reading comprehension questions; writing problems; mathematics problems; and two activities.

Biographical Passages – The biographical passages are either short biographies or historical fiction stories about the featured individual. Emphasis, in these passages, is placed on the individual’s contribution to the STEM fields.

Reading Comprehension Questions ­­– Following each passage is a set of multiple choice questions related to the reading. The question types that can be found in these sections are inference, vocabulary-in-context, main idea, detail, and tone.

Writing Problems – The writing problems involve identifying and correcting grammatical errors. One section includes a short writing prompt in lieu of the problems.

Mathematics Problems – The math section consists of multiple choice word problems. The math concepts that are covered in these problems involve arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

Activities – In addition to the educational aspect of the workbook, there are engaging activities at the end of each section. These activities include crossword puzzles, word searches, design activities, critical thinking exercises, and more. Even though all of these activities are not directly educational, they all have educational value. Furthermore, many of these activities integrate the arts into STEM (STEAM) by emphasizing the inherent role that art plays in STEM fields through activities such as designing and drawing. STEAM is also evident throughout the workbook by way of the illustrations that are used to complement the passages, questions, and activities.

​The material in this workbook covers concepts that fourth and fifth graders should be familiar with. On that note, the problems were developed with the various domains and clusters of the Common Core Standards used as reference points. Nevertheless, some of the problems are designed to be challenging to allow for continued academic growth.

In addition to strengthening reading, writing, and math skills, this workbook engages the students with questions similar in structure to those found on the SAT. This provides students with early exposure to the essence of the exam without diminishing the learning process by “teaching to the test”.

​About the authors…

Denise and Akibi are a wife and husband duo who met at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where they both received their master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering (Denise in civil engineering and Akibi in mechanical engineering). In addition to his education in engineering, Akibi has a master’s degree in educational psychology. They both have a history of community involvement, especially as it pertains to STEM education for youth. In addition to other community work, they both served as advisors for Tri-Cities High School NSBE Jr. Chapter and co-directors for Ujima Enterprises’ Saturday Engineering Enrichment Program.

As a parent that is raising children heavily into STEM, I can appreciate this workbook so much. It encompasses more than just STEM. It also includes history, writing, and critical thinking. It’s well thought out and quite rigorous. I love workbooks that actually encourage children to use their creativity and isn’t filled with super simple questions. I gifted a copy to my sister in law for her children. 5 stars for a workbook that is well put together. We love the graphics, too!

-Sharina Smallwood, Homeschooling Parent 

“I bought this book for my 10 year old nephew and this is what his mum had to say: “Great book-a good blend of science and black history. Also a very interesting read, making learning fun!”I also went through it myself and I highly recommend it not only for the STEM aspect but for learning about black pioneers that one typically doesn’t hear/read about.

-Omobola Thomas, Electrical Engineer


Miracle by DAS was started by Denise Smith-Archer in 2002 as an art company. Since then, Denise has combined her passion for art, with her love for education and background in engineering in order to use STEM/STEAM to serve her community.

Get in Touch

Feel free to reach out to learn more about how Miracle by DAS can support your STEM education efforts. Furthermore, we are always looking for individuals and organizations to partner with. In either case, we’d love to hear from you!

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