Connecting STEM to the CULTURE

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It’s no secret that there is little to no representation of black and brown individuals in the technology sector. Current curriculums and programs attempting to address this deficiency often seek to show students opportunities or directly try to convince them to pursue STEM careers. One thing these programs have in common is that they often fail to relate to the students.

Fascinate, Inc. is an organization with a mission to bring cutting-edge technology to underrepresented students nationwide and facilitate pathways into STEM-based careers. Cultural relevancy is their strategy of choice in getting students excited about STEM. The project we chose to focus on relates to the Dope Tech Showcase, a technology showcase held in a local makerspace with students and volunteers of color. Our goal is to work collaboratively in determining a process that will make the Dope Tech Showcase cohesive and replicable over an extended period of time. The result would be a showcase guide that the event organizer and/or volunteers could use to smoothly operate their own Dope Tech Showcase.

For more information, please refer to our case study and presentation.

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Pushing Against Inequality in Boston with Social Media

Within Massachusetts, inequality is rampant. A symptom of and contributor to that inequality is the prohibitive cost of child care which further perpetuates poor families struggling to both raise children and bring in a livable income. Furthermore, structural barriers prevent young women and mothers in poverty especially those of color, to come out of poverty. Project Hope works to alleviate these systemic challenges by providing programs that work with women to overcome these barriers. In order to best assist Project Hope in their mission, we devised a social media campaign to bring in more caregivers, students, families, and participants into their programs.

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Presentation

Case Study

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Infiltraiting Spaces: Uncovering Hidden Pathways into STEM

 

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For this project, I worked with 22 youth at the South Boston Clubhouse to design activities that promote constructionism and technological fluency, to be put in a subscription box and paired with an online community. The hope is to create an empowering and encouraging environment for marginalized youth where they feel free to pursue an education/career in STEM. The activities were selected by the youth, with help from the books The Art of Tinkering and Make: Start Making! Additionally, members of the Lifelong Kindergarten research group contributed activity ideas. The subscription box, while still being developed, was intentionally designed to encourage youth to pursue STEM activities – and ultimately a career, no matter the obstacles. From several of my listening methods, I learned that a majority of the youth I worked with didn’t know anyone in their families (or social network) who have a career in STEM, and didn’t know what types of careers were possible with a STEM education. This information shaped the direction of the online community. The online community’s purpose is to give youth a place to explore and ask questions they don’t have the space and opportunity to in their everyday lives, in addition to showcasing their work.

The race, class, and social barriers to constructionism in education for Black (and other marginalized communities) prevents their access to participation in 21st century careers in STEM fields that have the power to radically improve the economic trajectories of their lives. My hope is that with this project, we can find a way to lessen the barriers, diversify STEM fields, and show youth what is possible while also connecting them to opportunities.

Presentation

Case Study

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Project Case Study – Daphne and Hanna

Expanding the Notion of Public Good: A Popular Education WeChat Strategy for Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) Boston

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Summary:

We are creating educational content for progressive Chinese American community organizations to distribute on WeChat to broaden their base and to counter right-wing Chinese narratives.

Abstract:

The Chinatown Progressive Association (CPA) organizes working-class Chinese/Chinese Americans in Boston around issues of housing and workers rights. Civic action and political education around economic and racial justice are embedded in their organizing model.

Through discussions over the course of March and April with CPA staff, our co-design project landed on the form of educational content expanding the notion of the public good, and on the issue of right-wing organizing on WeChat, a Chinese social media platform that has been utilized extensively by conservative Chinese activists.

To address misinformation spread by right-wing Chinese Americans, there must be a more diverse range of content available on the WeChat platform. We are designing shareable WeChat content that can open up easily within a group chat and that can be integrated into a subscription account post. This collection of images will also be given to CPA in larger file format so that they can also be used as posters. The first topic we chose was data disaggregation, one of the most contested issues on WeChat currently.

Case study and Presentation available on request.

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The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture

The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture in St. Louis, MO brings Black history to the light from the shadows, but remains a hidden gem itself. Through codesigning a crowdfunding campaign, The Griots’ fans crafted the public story for a new addition to the museum they love, increasing visibility, funding and a new audience.

See our Final Case Study and Final Presentation here!

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Am I Next?: Youth Activism and School Gun Violence Documentary

The official poster for the BMHS/BATV documentary, Am I Next?

The official poster for the BMHS/BATV documentary, Am I Next?

Am I Next? is a short documentary focusing on student opinions and activism in Billerica, MA around the topic of school gun violence.

The goal of the documentary is to provide Billerica’s high school students a space to have their voices heard, advance their knowledge of video production, and explore different viewpoints on gun violence.

Group members of this project performed interviews with Billerica Memorial High School students in group and individual settings as well as researched local and national reactions to school gun violence. Our project collaborators also filmed the BMHS student walkout, researched the history of school gun violence in the U.S., and compiled related social media posts and news footage to enhance the audience’s understanding of the topic. Through this project, we hope to create dialogue between students and community members about how different populations in our society react to gun violence in school settings and how we can move forward to ensure these events don’t continue to occur.

Here are the links to the project slides, the case study, and the extended trailer for the documentary.

The full documentary will be out Fall 2018 and available through Billerica Access Television.

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Final presentation

Hi everyone!

Sadly I won’t be in clas on Wednesday — right now I’m in the Balkans, traveling for school and learning about the history of former Yugoslavia. Very interesting stuff.

Here is a link to our case study, though Mallory might still be editting it. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1n57MXsrNwvklRAZA5IOBPJppS5EsI4A5Rq88ecjqNOc/edit?usp=drivesdk

Mallory is also doing the powerpoint presentation, so I don’t have a link for that yet (THANK YOU MALLORY!). I wanted to post something because I’m worried I won’t have internet tomorrow.

A big reflection I’m having is about how do we make transformational change in such a short period of time? I think that our project (hopefully) started to sow the seeds for some ideas for transformational change. I think of transformational change as fundmentally altering the way we think about something, and therefore how we approach problem solving and implementing our ideas for solving the problem. The short term nature of the project reminds me that big changes take a long time to happen. If I want to keep doing co-design inspired work and make transformational change, I might need to re-think what transformational change look like or how I measure whether or not it’s happening…Right now I measure whether or not we changed how we think about things, and therefore changed how we approach problem solving and implementing our problem solving ideas by evaluating whether or not the idea we implement feels risky but is successful. I think my evaluation metric for transformational change is the riskiness of the idea and implementation because I think that something really transformational shouldn’t already exist…and it needs to be successful otherwise it wasn’t a good transofrmational change! But to see this kind of change, it seems impossible without trial and error, which takes time, money, and relationhips built on trust. Iam thinking about how to maximize those three things in a world where sometimes they are limited. And trying to think about whether I need a new definition or evaluation tool for transformational change.

Really excited to hear how the presentations go. i wish I could tune in, but I am 7 hours ahead, so class will be from 2-5am in Croatian time :)

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Workshop with CPA

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On Friday, April 20, we facilitated a workshop at CPA Boston from 5-6 PM. The attendees of the workshop were members of the CPA Steering Committee. There were approximately fifteen people in attendance by 6 PM. Our primary question for the meeting was: How might CPA use Wechat more effectively to influence more Chinese Americans in Boston?

Here is our workshop presentation. Here are our agenda and meeting notes.

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The meeting was held in Mandarin and Cantonese, with some simultaneous interpretation into English. CPA staff and members described their experiences with Wechat. Generally, the Chinese-speakers were more knowledgeable about Wechat and were involved in more private group chats. Mrs. Tang, the most knowledgeable about Chinatown WeChat groups, noted how whenever she disagreed with right-wing opinions in group chats, she would feel attacked. Fiona, the workers center organizer, expressed the need to create much more educational Wechat content to be able to respond to the daily articles by right-wing Chinese. Lydia and Karen, former and current executive directors of CPA, discussed the need for long-term planning for content-creation and gave us feedback for utilizing existing material such as the Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit created by CPA San Francisco.

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Through the workshop, we were able to get quick feedback on our Wechat infographic prototype and we were able to crowdsource a list of future content topics and resources to continue making content. We were also able to connect with others in the Chinese American activist community who are organizing a more extensive effort around utilizing Wechat. Our next steps include 1) continuing to create content and to share with our new Wechat group for further feedback, and 2) conducting research on right-wing Chinese WeChat mobilization strategies.

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The Griot’s inner circle provides insight

This first feedback session was a small group of people very familiar with The Griot. We selected these participants because they know the museum well and we thought a first round workshop would be a productive way to ensure that our new twists on the Griot story is true to A.) what people love about The Griot and B.) accurate. We had two attendees join us, and though video chat, and though our group was small, the conversation was incredibly rich and we could have even used more time. The intimate nature of the workshop allowed us to review each section of the proposed crowdfunding campaign page in detail.

Our agenda took us through each section of the early draft campaign page where we inquired from our experts to share elements they would add, take away, or definitely keep. We also gathered their immediate reactions to language and photo as well as minute details such as specific tweaks in language. The group setting allowed for our participants to react to each other and build off of one another. Through our screen share video chat, we were all able to view the same elements at the same time, which allowed for a very focused conversation.

This session was incredibly helpful. Key takeaways included:

  • Because our point person for the project is the sole employee of the museum, her inner circle (including those at the workshop and others) truly are the experts of the museum. They have been key to gaining insight into The Griot and it’s context, as well as refining our campaign

  • A request for language to not appear imploring or to highlight deficiency, but rather to orient our fundraising campaign around ‘opportunity’ and positive language

  • The inner circle is eager to connect us to other resources and supporters

  • The message of the campaign can be further focused

  • There is a need to balance the story as its always been told with a new way of telling the story to a new audience

  • There is a need to balance meticulous accuracy and audience-specific linguistic appeals in the campaign. This is always the fine dance of marketing, and an important balance for us to strike in this project

  • We should embrace the justice platform of the institution through the crowdfunding campaign

We will ensure that in our next workshop we are testing these changes with a group who is unfamiliar with The Griot, to ensure that this story resonates with folks outside of The Griot’s inner circle. We are also considering testing two different messages to see what is resonating more with people unfamiliar with the museum. We are also adjusting out language to be more opportunity-oriented, as well as language that centers around the justice-based ethos of the museum and its inner circle.

 

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Student Documentary Planning Workshop

I held a workshop with two of my codesigners/high school video club members to work out the structure of the school gun violence documentary as well as to discuss what material we had and what we still needed to get. The workshop was extremely productive! It resulted not only in a clearly defined “flow” for the film, but also provided a space to parse out the aesthetic of the film. We discussed possible graphics, camera shots, and how we can use audio to convey transitions between the various sections of the piece.

In order to allow space for my students to voice their opinions about where they see the direction of the film going, I made sure to structure the workshop in a way that would be more fluid than rigid. Although the workshop guide divides out the workshop into three sections, the actual workshop I facilitated was more of an organic conversation and planning session rather than a rigidly timed workshop.

Going forward, we will be meeting twice a week along with regular check ins to make sure we stay on task. The two students will schedule additional interviews, gather footage from other local and national protests, assist with filming B roll, and edit together footage. We will continue to define roles as the process continues and make this experience as collaborative as possible. I’m very excited to see how all this turns out!

Our "storyboard flowchart" for the documentary.

Our “storyboard flowchart” for the documentary.

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