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.