March 3, 2014
Media project teaches young people to investigate science stories as reporters, develop apps as programmers
It’s after school, but this building in downtown Oakland, Calif., is buzzing with enthusiastic teenagers raring to go… learn! On any given day, these kids are working under tight deadlines that would make many adults sweat. Welcome to Youth Radio, part of a youth media project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to engage underrepresented 14-24 year olds with training and hands-on experience in engineering, and the social, physical and biological sciences.
The project is designed around core practices that engage youth in original research and inquiry through experimentation, development and creative use of new technologies and tools to communicate STEM to the public. This innovative new model for collaborations between STEM researchers and under-represented youth results in digital media that impacts the youth as well as the public’s understanding of and engagement in science.
“Youth Radio continues developing new strategies using media and technology to engage and excite youth in STEM learning and careers. This model is giving young people skills for the future, as well as connecting them to scientist and technologist role models,” says Sandra Welch, a program director in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings within NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.
Youth Radio serves intensively 300 youth at its Oakland headquarters, 92 percent of whom are low-income and/or youth of color, plus an additional 4,000+ through outreach in schools, community centers, workshops and presentations across the country.