Black Kids Predict Sports

Project: Research project

Project Details


Black Kids Predict Sports (BKP) is a combination of academic-year and summer program that provides opportunities for youth from across Chicago to explore and go deeper in developing connections between computer science and sports using research-based curriculum with the support of trained young adult mentors. Black Kids Predicts addresses a trifecta of problems with technology education, specifically: 1) the limited nature of the most common K-12 computer science education models; 2) the lack of support for marginalized youth in accessing computer science learning opportunities; and 3) the pervasive stereotype that athletes are inferior students, and “smart students” can not also be athletic. Under current educational and societal structures, the ways that people should “do” and learn computer science often fall into rigid categories that leave little room for expansive ways of knowing. Frequently, models of K-12 computer science education involve individualistic learning activities, rely on direct instruction, and involve decontextualized and esoteric assignments. This style of learning is misaligned with the more collaborative and creative ways that computer science is used in practice. In an effort to democratize access to computer science in K-12 settings, online courses, coding bootcamps, college outreach programs, after school programs, and summer programs have emerged. Many of these programs focus on creating pipelines for more youth to go into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, rather than focusing on what computing means for their current learning. An underlying tenet of Black Kids Predict is that, with the right learning and mentoring support, computing can be a tool that youth use to investigate what they know now and what they want to know in the future. Compounding the issue of how computer science learning is defined is the fact that many existing programs do not adequately support marginalized youth. This permeates many K-12 settings where marginalized youth may be guided away from computing experiences or be situated in a school district where there is no access to these opportunities. At all levels, Black students are less likely to have access to a computer science class at school. Consequently only 8% of undergraduate computer science degrees and only 4% of undergraduate math or statistics degrees were awarded to Black students as recently as 2019. Fewer than 1% of STEM graduate degrees were awarded to Black students in that year. Out-of-school computing experiences are typically concentrated around areas of wealth and in neighborhoods where parents/guardians have the time to research opportunities for their youth. Furthermore, STEM media propagates narrow images of who enters computing spaces. This biases youth, and, at times, their teachers, away from learning opportunities related to technology and computing. Therefore, when designing and framing computing environments we must be intentional about supporting youth from all backgrounds. Most youth have intimate relationships with sports. We have seen these relationships first-hand, with students working at great length to superficially connect their class projects, in media arts and music, to sports. Yet, students seldom have opportunities to deeply connect sports with learning. In my research, I have observed that by 7th grade many youths adhere to narratives of athletes being inferior students. This stereotype lives alongside the idea that people who are smart are not athletic. Interestingly, however, athletes
Effective start/end date9/1/228/31/23


  • Motorola Solutions Foundation (11/07/2022)


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