FUSE - 2014

Project: Research project

Project Details


In 2013, the FUSE program grew from just over 200 youth at 4 locations to more than 1200 youth in 18 different schools and libraries in the greater Chicago area. The flexibility of the program has inspired several different implementation models for connected learning both in-school and out-of-school. FUSE has launched a partnership with the Schaumburg School District 54 to open FUSE Studios in each of their schools. Twenty-two teachers are facilitating FUSE at 5 Schaumburg schools either in their classroom or during afterschool time. Four additional schools in District 54 will begin FUSE in January, bringing this total to 38 teachers. Our partnership with North Shore Academy is another notable example. Students at this therapeutic school tend to have low persistence and self-esteem and they have thrived in the self-paced FUSE environment. The program also has continued to be successful in youth programming at libraries and through other youth-serving organizations and pop-up events. The FUSE challenge library has doubled to include 20 different challenges that provide teens with interest-driven entry points into STEAM topics such as 3D design and prototyping, coding, solar energy, fashion design, and electronics. In 2013, the FUSE team expanded to support additional challenge development and engaged numerous Northwestern University faculty and students and industry partners to design new challenges. Building on this momentum, our goals for 2014 include: 1. Developing more challenges, expanding crowdsourcing of challenge design ideas, and optimizing the challenge design process 2. Implementing new measures to assess the program’s impact on the development of important 21st Century skills. 3. Expanding the capabilities of the FUSE online learning platform 4. Supporting additional FUSE Studio locations Significant effort will be devoted to the first two goals, particularly challenge development. The FUSE team will continue to increase the efficiency of challenge development cycles, formalizing the process to streamline development internally and with external partners. These efforts will also support our initiatives to crowd-source challenge ideas from FUSE facilitators, teens, and STEAM professionals. Internal challenge development will be an ongoing effort all year long. We will continue to recruit Northwestern undergrads and other external partners to assist with challenge design. During summer 2014, the FUSE team will hold workshops to solicit challenge ideas from FUSE facilitators and Hive partners. We will recruit teachers who have served as FUSE facilitators to spend part of the summer as FUSE Fellows to participate in an intensive challenge development experience that will double as professional development on connected learning. We anticipate that through these efforts we will be able to considerably increase the number of challenges developed. Through interviews with FUSE teens and facilitators, we have documented examples of the many ways that FUSE has positively impacted teens’ development of STEAM knowledge and 21st century skills. In 2014 we will integrate into fusestudio.net mechanisms to administer survey instruments to obtain quantitative measures of how teens’ attitudes towards STEAM and their ability to persevere through difficult tasks are affected by participation through FUSE. Continued development of fusestudio.net will inform challenge design and program development through deeper data analysis of teen engagement at FUSE. In addition, feedback from FUSE teens and facilitators has inspired
Effective start/end date1/1/145/31/16


  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (14-106114-000-USP)


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