SCC: I4all (interests for all): A smart socio-technical infrastructure to identify, cultivate, and sustain youth STEAM interests in a diverse midsized American city

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal to the Smart & Connected Cities program offers a plan for designing and implementing—in close collaboration with various community stakeholders in youth serving organizations in the city of Evanston, IL—a new approach to sparking, cultivating, and supporting the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) interests of all young people in this diverse medium-sized city. We call this proposed project “Interests for All (I4All): A smart socio-technical infrastructure to identify, cultivate, and sustain youth STEAM interests in a diverse midsized American city”. The proposal builds both conceptually and materially on the prior work from both the principal investigator and co-principal investigator. In particular the project builds on Pinkard’s Cities of Learning project and Stevens’ FUSE Studios project. Both of these projects have explicit goals to broaden participation in STEAM pursuits, a goal that would be significantly advanced through I4All. In this project, we will evaluate the success of the I4All infrastructure with quantitative metrics that will tell us whether and to what degree Evanston youth are finding and developing their STEAM interests and—critical to our approach—whether the I4All infrastructure supports a significantly more equitable distribution of opportunities to youth, instead of it being a vehicle for the reproduction of inequities in OST STEAM offerings. This is a known problem in Evanston (Lewis & Diamond, 2015 and nationally, Dawson, 2014). We will also conduct in depth qualitative case studies of youth interest development. These longitudinal studies will complement our quantitative metrics of participation and give us an ‘experience near’ representation of how youth and adults are using the I4All infrastructure. As a DBIR project, the experience-level data from these case studies will also inform our design revisions to the socio-technical infrastructure. Another resource for our design revisions will be direct studies of human computer interaction (cf. Hall and Stevens, 2016), using video-based interviews, of youth using the I4All web resources. Broader Impacts This work sets up the potential for scaling this model through different communities, leveraging the OST network in one community to begin to offer professional development more widely throughout the district and beyond. This project will have impact on the participation of underrepresented minorities in Evanston STEAM OST ecosystem by providing the community the tools to understand and act upon the needs of underrepresented communities and youth. This work will also impact strategies and policies created by local school officials and community organizations regarding how to work together to create local learning environments to create an ecosystem where formal and informal learning spaces support and reinforce STEAM knowledge. Intellectual Merit This research project has the potential to make significant contributions as a national exemplar of how to create and implement infrastructures and social practices that support and make visible learning across in and out of school contexts while providing stakeholders access to both the data and collaboration tools to engage in needed conversation about how to ensure that data is being used to ensure that learning opportunities are being offered equitably across a city and that discussions of the allocation of community resources and social supports aimed at increasing and sustaining participation in STEAM OST participation for all.
Effective start/end date10/1/186/30/22


  • National Science Foundation (CNS-1831685)


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