When STEM and Art Collide: C-STEM Unveils Public Art Project to Address Literacy in the Community

ABOVE: Dr. Reagan Flowers poses with supporters at C-STEM Free Little Library Public Art Project unveiling

This past Thursday, September 6th, C-STEM Teacher and Student Support Services, Inc. (C-STEM), in collaboration with the Harambee Art Gallery, unveiled an unprecedented community public art project that they hope will bridge the digital divide.

This collaboration is the brainchild of Dr. Reagan Flowers, who is the founder of C-STEM. Dr. Flowers’ vision for this project was to create a free little library, beautify the community with public art, close the digital divide and create a safer neighborhood.

“This project is living proof that the act of doing one thing can pay dividends beyond anything you ever imagined,” said Dr. Flowers. My former students from Jack Yates chose their future when they accepted the challenge to build a robot. That single choice made what seemed to be impossible, possible. And now, 18 years later, those robots are still inspiring creativity and innovation, and are giving back to the community far beyond their robotics competitions.”

Harambee Art Gallery’s Charles Washington – a noted Third Ward environmental artist – received the commission for the public structure, which includes a Free Little Library with a “take-a-book, leave-a-book” policy. This beautification project is being housed at the C-STEM headquarters, located at 3226 Alabama St., in Houston’s historic Third Ward.

Washington made the C-STEM Free Little Library Public Art Project from Sea Turtle sculptures that were used as canvases by PreK-12th grade students, and incorporated robot parts from Jack Yates High School students who competed in the 2000 and 2001 FIRST Lone Star Regional Robotics Competition.

“I see my life as a large canvas of opportunity, so each day I work to create a masterpiece. My art expresses my feelings about my life and the world around me,” said Washington.

C-STEM art projects require students to draw inspiration from John Biggers’ art masterpiece, “Spring Renewal.”

The community outreach component of the public art project will be the filtered Wi-Fi connectivity that will be provided to students in Houston by Kajeet®, the industry leader for safe, K-12 mobile solutions. Students will be able to safely access the Internet, enabling them to take full advantage of the technology provided and improve their C-STEM skills.

“The goal of the project is to highlight and enhance awareness of literacy in our community, help bridge the digital divide by providing free Wi-Fi, beautify the community and advocate for safer neighborhoods,” said Dr. Flowers.

Tons of supporters, neighbors, Houston City Council members, Houston Independent School District (HISD) officers and a detective were present at the unveiling to applaud the successful combined effort of C-STEM, Harambee Art Gallery and other partners in the project’s completion.

The combined efforts of C-STEM and Harambee Art Gallery have provided the greater Houston community with access to technology, art, and the tools to excel.

For more information on C-STEM, please visit www.cstem.org.