YOUmedia Learning Labs at ASTC 2014

Before the Thanksgiving Holiday, YOUmedia Learning Lab representatives from ARTLAB+ (Amy Homma), the Lawrence Hall of Science (Sherry Hsi), and the New York Hall of Science (David Wells) sat down with the National Writing Project (K-Fai Steele) to go over their session Designing for Equity and Cultural Relevance from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) 2014 Conference.

We decided to do this post-conference hangout as a way to archive our intellectual goods and resources, as well as stimulate questions and conversations as a result of these gatherings. Expect to participate in one of these in the future! See this page for the PDF slideshow of Amy’s talk and of Sherry’s talk. 


And a not-entirely-inclusive, but curated list of some of points discussed in regards to approaches to inclusivity and broadening access:

  • Having multiple activities at the same time: this encourages multiple entry points to youth engagement, and also encourages youth to take the lead in leading activities. There should be multiple ways of letting youth be expressive with materials and create their own pathways/stories.
  • Don’t pressure youth into participating in specific activities (“not all kids are going to be interested in STEM”). It’s important for the space to be a place of discovering potential interests.
  • Think of your space as an environment of learning, where anyone can be an expert: teens can teach teens, can teach mentors, etc. It’s important for teens to see adults/mentors learning alongside youth.
  • ARTLAB+ constantly refreshes their program schedule to ensure cultural relevancy with teens; they’ve gotten positive teen feedback.
  • ARTLAB+ found that they had to incorporate HOMAGO aspects not to their space, but to their workshops themselves; they couldn’t build a program consistently over weeks because they couldn’t rely on consistent attendance.
  • ARTLAB+ connects their certifications (their version of badging) to industry standards: they developed a diagnostic certification program (youth need to show that they know how to use a tool), and then those skills are explicitly linked (in the certification) to examples of how these skills can be used in a career.
  • Lawrence Hall of Science recruits TechHive Interns specifically for a diversity of gender, experience, geography. Also, hiring some staff that is bilingual is useful when communicating to parents about what their youth is learning and doing.
  • Transportation is acknowledged as an issue to getting youth to come to the site.
  • When bringing in visiting speakers from industry (particularly tech) be careful, as it can sometimes reinforce stereotypes about who works in tech, who tech jobs are for, etc.
  • Evaluation/qualitative research: NYSCI’s “SpeakUp Space” (basically a video booth) is a way of collecting feedback from youth.
    • Asks: “What did you do/make? What did you like? what would you change?” “Better than a survey” because it’s more general. “When prompts are more pointed you don’t get nearly as much information [from youth].” -David Wells
    • “Surveys can be very “school”... and may not be as “ecologically valid” for the work we do in these rich informal learning spaces” Sherry Hsi
    • Lawrence Hall of Science does a reflective discussion with TechHive using the terms “pluses” and “deltas” (as opposed to “minuses”). This steers the conversation more in the direction of how an activity can be improved. Youth go from critics to designers.