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.
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.
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.
Case Study – (will post once I receive photo releases)
Expanding the Notion of Public Good: A Popular Education WeChat Strategy for Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) Boston
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.
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 here.
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!
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.
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