This weekend University of Texas Dallas hosts the African American Male Academic Bowl, where students in grades 6-8 from Dallas ISD and other schools across North Texas participate in a quiz-show style competition and an engineering design project with Lockheed Martin engineers.

The annual “Aiming for the Stars” Academic Bowl is designed to help African American males excel in school and beyond by promoting out-of-school learning and providing access to information and mentoring.

Other objectives, according to literature on the event, include encouraging Black youth to continue to excel in their educational endeavors; promoting teamwork and peer mentoring; fostering male mentoring relationships with young Black men inside and outside the classroom environment and counteracting the negative images of young Black men in all aspects of the media.

Students’ technical difficulties during 2021’s all virtual event seemed to illustrate one of the big themes of intermittent discussions throughout the competition — that Black students are consistently more likely to face remote learning challenges.

On the other side of that, a student from Berkner High School gave a talk about his positive experiences with virtual learning.

You can listen in on the 2021 bowl and those conversations here. (high school student David at 2:30).

As educators and officials continue to address those and related challenges, the bowl returns to the UTD campus in person this weekend.

The 2022 charity partner is East Dallas-based Project Still I Rise, which is dedicated to helping under-resourced youth pursue successful careers in a variety of disciplines.

The annual event has included hundreds of participating boys that not only represent North Texas middle schools but also numerous local community groups, faith-based organizations and Greek-lettered auxiliary young groups, organizers say.

Competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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