1. Ugochi Acholonu
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/ugochi-acholonu/
  3. Research Scientist
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Dominic Amato
  2. DePaul Graduate Student
  4. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Amy Eshelman
  2. Partnership Coordinator
  4. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Nichole Pinkard
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/nichole-pinkard/
  3. Professor and Co-Founder of Digital Youth Network
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University

Broadening Participation in Computing through a Community Approach to Learning

NSF Awards: 1441057

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

Chicago has a rich ecosystem of low-cost, informal learning opportunities that expose youth to STEM experiences and STEM communities. At anytime, families can find opportunities around computer programming, robotics, and making. However, data from the Chicago City of Learning website, a site that catalogs over 4500 STEM-related informal programs in the city, suggests that these opportunities may be inaccessible to working-class families and families of color. When we mapped the locations of code-related, face-to-face programs in the city, we found the majority of opportunities were located in the downtown area, a nonresidential area not heavily populated with working-class families and families of color. In many residential areas where working class families and families of color primarily live, little to no coding opportunities were available in their neighborhoods in 2015. These families, in essence, live in a computing desert.

In an effort to highlight and combat these computing deserts, the Digital Youth Network at DePaul University formed the Mobile Van initiative. The Mobile Van initiative brought trained mentors, laptops, and online curriculum to community centers that served traditionally underrepresented families and were located in areas with little to no informal opportunities around computing. Community centers included parks, libraries, and churches. In this video we provide an overview and snapshot of the experiences of the mobile van team as they work with students and community partners in the city. The mobile van initiative is an example solution to broaden access to informal STEM and computing learning opportunities.

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