From NPR:

Last week, the publisher unveiled the last of five special covers featuring disciplines that guide school curricula nationwide — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, also known as STEAM. It’s part of an effort, the company says, to encourage young readers to double-down on their studies and explore fields said to lead to better jobs.

“We plan to continue to motivate our fans to explore their passions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math and present these disciplines through some of our favorite young heroes who are doing just that — following their dreams and preparing for the challenges that await them ahead,” David Gabriel, Senior VP for Sales & Marketing of Marvel Comics said in a statement.

Available in November, the covers are alternative prints of several titles. Famous heroes such as the Hulk and Spiderman make appearances. So do lesser-knowns Gwenpool — an amalgam of Spiderman’s Gwen Stacy and meta-jokester Deadpool — and kid genius Moongirl.

The covers also coincide with the debut of Marvel’s new Iron Man, Riri Williams, a 15-year-old engineering prodigy, who is also featured.

Readers may notice that Marvel’s tapped a diverse field of heroes for the covers — characters Riri Williams and Moongirl are African-American, and Spiderman Miles Morales is of Hispanic and African-American descent — all working in fields in which educators and officials say women and minorities are underrepresented.

“The media literally shapes what people aspire to be,” said Virginia Booth Womack, president of the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates.

Womack also oversees recruitment and retainment efforts for students from underrepresented communities at Purdue University’s College of Engineering. She says part of getting students to feel like they belong involves seeing people who look like them engaged in their field, in their own communities and the wider culture.

“The power …

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