The goal of our Tinkering program is to create Tinkerers: students who experiments with materials and ideas to fully understand their capacities, and who further iterates on their learning to find better solutions to current problems. Tinkering is about hands-on experiences, learning from failures, and unstructured time to explore and invent. And through the processes of exploration and invention lies the potential for innovation. Tinkering activities also build peer relationships in our students. If we want to raise kids to be independent thinkers and change-makers, one of the best things we can do is give them the tools to figure stuff out for themselves.
Video Game Design
Over the course of a year we combine video game design and development, education and career counseling, industry exposure, and hands-on training. We train participants on how to create, code and design games, building skills across specific fields necessary to thrive in technology, from coding to visual art, creative writing, design thinking, project management, team building, animation and game theory.
Our core program is designed to teach students how to design and develop video games. Our students make bold, new interactive content pieces that are researched, designed, and executed by them and their peers.
There is growing indication that the world needs people who can create jobs, not simply fill them. We created an entrepreneurship program to be an authentic 10 week crash course in impact. It empowers students to take immediate action and experience real world results. We see entrepreneurship as a way to engage and empower students from all backgrounds, but especially those from low-income families. We provided tools, encouragement and strategies, but each student earned their own first sale, including the money it made and the confidence it built. We wanted our students to know that their success isn’t dependent on the bias or charity of others. We created experiences to demonstrate that financial success, at least, was achievable through their own grit, collaboration and willingness to fail.
Makerspaces have the capacity to help fill the highly advanced jobs of the future. Students who spend time in Makerspaces have the opportunity to explore, learn, and create in ways that support advanced STEM-related jobs. Understandably, some students will not always be very excited to learn about Mathematics, Science, Engineering, even Technology in a regular classroom setting. Whether they might be too shy to ask questions, too unfocused, have low academic self-esteem or many other possible reasons. Makerspaces are intentionally open spaces that are welcoming to those who have a hard time learning in the conventional classroom style.
Permaculture and Food Justice
Sustainability: We are teaching our students how to be conscientious stewards of all resources, whether they are natural resources, financial resources, or human resources.
- Science: Our permaculture program is driven by a passion for science. We believe that teaching our kids to think critically, ask questions, and communicate clearly allows us to seek answers that reflect our realities.
- Getting dirty: We are teaching out Urban youth the power of digging into the soil or digging in to a challenging project, we relish getting dirty. Spending time outdoors, in nature, is essential to our urban youth’s well-being.
- Goal of the program: To transform school yard into living outdoor classrooms.
Social Emotional Learning
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is often described as a set of skills or competencies that involve self-awareness, self-management, relationship building, and conflict resolution. The goal is to help students develop the tools to understand and manage their own emotional responses to social situations. We are prototyping our program at the intersection of SEL with Design Thinking. Our goal is to see the potential impact self and social-awareness will have on students’ ability to work in teams. The second influence is on empathy work. Finding and understanding human needs is at the heart of design thinking. Having the mindset of understanding others and practice resolving issues in a personal way, all things SEL promotes, can drive a design thinking process.