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DJ Kast, Wonderkids, Los Angeles Public Schools 

Grade 5

IWAK created science comics that were utilized within the USC Wonderkids Program, which serves Los Angeles Public Schools.


One example was of Dr. Darin Gray, an engineer and educator who identifies as Black. His comic discussed his childhood love for engineering and the confidence his mom gave him to pursue STEM careers. He also talked about how systemic racism has affected him and the steps he takes to combat it in his own life. He also shared his love for USC and his passion for engineering. In our Wonderkids classrooms, we paired the comic with a video conference between students and Dr. Gray. He told them about his work in bioengineering, in which engineers work with doctors and patients to solve problems through design and invention. This led to an activity on designing a prosthetic hand with straws and string and then he had the students make the USC fight on sign. He loves the fight on message and encourages students to persist in STEM as well. The video conference was recorded. You can find it — and share it with your students — here. Dr. Gray’s I Was A Kid profile and comics are here.


The WonderKids I Was A Kid capsule includes student teacher and psychology major Lindsay Huerta; USC Young Scientists Program director Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast; and chemistry professor José Ricardo Moreno, Ph.D.


Sophia Plancarte

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