Thursday, February 25, 2016

Digital East St. Louis

“Digital East St. Louis” – a three-year, National Science Foundation-funded project – is designed to implement and study place-based learning with the purpose of increasing interest in STEM among African American students. The project, which began in 2015, engages middle school students from East St. Louis in a series of out-of-school, technological learning activities. The students participating in the project will gain computer skills and contribute to documentation and digital productions concentrating on their home—East St. Louis.

Middle school students participating in the “Digital East St. Louis” project have been researching and photographing various locales in their city and neighborhoods. At the same time, they’ve been learning aspects of web-design and strengthening technological skills. Their activities constitute innovative approaches to studying and producing knowledge about African American neighborhoods.

The middle school students have been producing sightseeing explorations about notable areas in their neighborhoods. These explorations, referred to as “walking tours” provide the students with opportunities to photograph, write about, and produce online content about historic and contemporary aspects of their city.

[Related: Scenes from the Digital East St. Louis exhibit]

I’ve observed and participated in service projects in East St. Louis for over 10 years now. However, “Digital East St. Louis” is the first project that I contributed to that makes technological training so central, with the possibility of increasing interest in STEM among students, beginning in middle school. The project creates opportunities for re-imaging service work in East St. Louis to include web design, oral history interviews, and “walking tours.”

A Notebook on Digital East St. Louis 

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