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Published by Susan Klimczak

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Published by: Susan Klimczak on Nov 29, 2011
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2011 Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Description
Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn is a socially innovative out-of-school-time (OST) program that uses multi-level mentoring to create acritical mass of Boston youth who are fundamentally engaged in emergingscience and technology. We believe that this critical mass of 3,000-5,000youth (5-10% of Boston Public School enrollment) can catalyze culturalchange in our community about what is possible to achieve and can increasethe number of youth of color who go on to study science, technology andengineering in college. We are also preparing a new generation of inventorswho understand that science and engineering innovation should include asocial factor.Over the past nine years, we have offered meaningful paid work to over 250Boston teenagers as they learn, build and teach with emerging science andtechnology. Through our collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory, theseteenage youth teachers are exposed to students, research and resources atthe Media Lab as they
. To gain confidence and competence, youthteachers then work in small teams to
projects that solve a communityissue they think important. Finally, these youth teachers serve asambassadors and mentors,
ing what they have learned aboutemerging science and technology to elementary and middle school youth atdozens of community organizations across Boston. We also have asuccessful Hub model to help community organization partners develop theirown capacity to offer science and technology programming. Over the pastnine years our youth teachers have shared their enthusiasm for science,technology, engineering and math with nearly 3,000 children at over 25housing developments, community centers, churches and youth agencieswhile teaching hands-on project-based science, technology and engineeringactivities.Our
multi-level mentoring
is based on the belief, that althoughcaring adult mentors can serve important roles, the reality is that peerinfluence can be equally if not more powerful. When the influence isnegative, this power is at the root of many problems facing young people.Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn works to harness this powerful influencepositively to engage young people in science, technology, engineering andmath. Returning youth teachers mentor and train new youth teachers. Allthe youth teachers mentor and teach younger children. We also believe thatwhile mentoring certainly happens between individuals, the power of a groupto mentor and form a support web can often be crucial in preventingindividuals from falling through the cracks. Because our youth face so manychallenges, we work to build an inclusive support community of seasonedcaring adults, young people, education institutions and communityorganizations throughout our city.What sets us apart from other science, technology and engineeringprograms for youth is our approach in
connecting “technologies of the
earth” with “technologies of the heart.”
Technologies of the earth isare the technologies that we use to get and shape resources from the earthin a way that advances our human development, allowing access to thingsthat would improve the quality of life and our ability to relate to the planet. Technologies of the heart are those “technologies” that bring out the best inus, enhance our relationship with each other so that each person’s gifts canbe shared. Many of our youth of color are still struggling because the workof the freedom movement is not yet been completed, in particular,significant forces in the media (pervasive negative images of youth) andtheir schools (low expectations and achievement gaps) present obstacles totheir developing self-esteem and to the possibility of their developing astrong belief in their capacity to learn and thrive. Addressing these strugglesthrough “efficacy work” is a big part of what we do. For instance we helpyouth learn strategies for “getting smart,” help youth develop confidenceand a sense of competence, and help youth to see failure as an opportunity. The second technology of the heart that we instill in youth teachers is theimportance of innovating and inventing solutions that address problematicissues in our community and of sharing what they learn. Youth teachersbuild socially conscious projects and ask the young people they teach, “Whatdid you learn that you can teach someone else?” The
long term significance
of Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn can be seenthrough the number of youth who go on to study STEM fields in college andreturn to mentor the next generation of teenage youth teachers. It can alsobe seen in the number of youth teachers who return for a second, third orfourth year and the number of elementary and middle school youth who goon to become the new generation of youth teachers. Long-term significancecan also be seen as our community organization partners develop theeducation capacity to offer their own programs as Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2Learn Hubs. This pipeline of youth and community organizations is preparingthe next generation of inventors and STEM mentors.We are now working with MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms to replicate ourmodel across the international Fab Lab network. Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2Learn has been written about, discussed and presented in both popularinformal education enterprises such as
Make Magazine
as well as in formal academic efforts like MIT dissertations,academic texts and the ACM Tangible Embedded & Embodied Interactionconference
Over 85% of Boston public school students are youth of color. Longitudinal research demonstrates that students of color are as likelyas white students to show interest in careers in science, technology,engineering and math, yet they eventually run into problems that keep themfrom pursuing those interests.
Boston students are faced with a troubling
Schmidt, Peter. (2006, April 11) “Study blames obstacles, not lack of interest, forshortage of black and Hispanic scientists.”
Chronicle of Higher Education
convergence of underperforming schools,
persistent achievement gapsalong lines of race/ethnicity and income,
a culture that does not rewardacademic success, and lack of access to the latest science and technologyideas and tools.
Conventional approaches to STEM learning in schools is notworking well for our youth of color.Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn grew out of our belief that, while we supportthe slow and steady efforts of Boston Public Schools to address these issues,it is unconscionable to stand by and do nothing while our youth suffer in themeantime. Research findings suggest a correlation between frequentattendance in OST activities and positive outcomes, including an increase inacademic achievement”
and that attending high quality science,technology, engineering and math (STEM) afterschool programs benefitsyouth through “improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers;increased STEM knowledge and skills; and higher likelihood of graduationand pursuing a STEM career.”
  There is an imminent shortage of professionals with skills in science,technology and engineering in the United States. Our youth of color havebeen historically underrepresented in these fields and represent an untappedpotential for rejuvenating them. By developing a network of near peermentors of color, as well as exposing youth to both “technologies of earth”and “technologies of the heart,” we can make steps towards closing andfilling the gaps in schools and in the STEM field.
Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn’s pedagogy combines thelearning theory of constructionism with longstanding and successfulcommunity and youth development practices. Constructionism is a learningapproach developed by Dr. Seymour Papert that focuses on thereconstruction of knowledge, especially by building things, rather thansimply the transmission of knowledge devoid of a compelling context. Dr.David Cavallo, co-founder of Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn, worked with Dr.Papert to adapt constructionism for K-12 STEM learning. The theory claimsthat youth learn best as they design and build things that are “publicentitities.” “Public,” because for the greatest learning to happen, the youthmust both share their design process and what they make with others.
Based on a September 2008 Massachusetts Department of Elementary andSecondary education report, 100 out of 143 Boston Public schools wereunderperforming, failing to meet achievement standards established by the stateunder No Child Left Behind.
Boston Indicators Project, Boston Foundationhttp://www.bostonindicators.org/Indicators2008/Education/AtAGlance.aspx?id=10872
Confirmed by
Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Final Youth Teacher EvaluationSurveys 2007-2011.
American Youth Policy Forum (2006. January).
Helping youth succeed through Out of School Time Programs
. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum.
Afterschool Alliance (2011, September). STEM Learning in Afterschool: An analysisof Impact and Outcomes. Washington, DC: Afterschool Alliance.

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