Digital East St. Louis Project
-Dr. Jess DeSpain
East St. Louis
-Population decreased 82,3666 in 1950 to 27,066 in 2010.
-Source of Project Funding: National Science Foundation ITEST
Purpose of Digital East St. Louis Project is to attract East St. Louis natives, who largely constitute under-represented groups, into STEM
-Develop + test an urban place-based learning model
-Cohort of grade 6-9 participants progress through 4-week summer camps and Saturday sessions during the school year over a three-year period
-5-6 Instructors help develop + deliver content in the hopes they will take what they learn into their classrooms
Urban Place-based Education
Participants ask questions, solve real-world problems, and use field work to gather information in a local urban setting
Impacting Local Communities
- Pairing “IRL” experiences with digital methods
- Begin projects with a goal of listening + learning from participant experiences
- Gauging participant technology use + needs
- Forms of reciprocity when facing a lack of basic human needs
Middle School: age where STEM based interests often fade away, also age where web-building commonly involves playing around with text in ways that might hurt the eyes of an adult, but for the student, it is the coolest thing ever. They play with WordPress sites before working on main project.
If could start it over, prefer to work with smaller cohorts (15 at a time beginning in the summer)
Project should last 4 Years- ideally each student will be transferred into upward bound (upward bound=college readiness program for high schoolers), 3rd year = more options, e.g. graphic novels/game design, Intrinsic based: extrinsic learning does not equal long term learning.
Biggest tension: how much control over website is given to students vs. providing a usable database
Best way to encourage extrinsic motivation: choice + presence of friends
Problems with Project: because basic human needs are not always met in East St. Louis, it has been hard to get people involved
Better luck getting people to show up by texting students instead of parents