Recently announced pk-12 education innovation grants explore ways to support underserved learners in global contexts | MIT J-WEL

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Recently announced pk-12 education innovation grants explore ways to support underserved learners in global contexts

Grants also focus on developing teacher capacity in the US and Argentina

J-WEL has announced the most recent round of pK-12 education innovation grants, which further J-WEL’s commitment to generate innovative approaches to reaching marginalized learners and to providing capacity-building experiences for educators. The grants focus on a number of countries around the world, including Argentina, Greece, Indonesia, and India, with three focused on the U.S.

Five of the seven awards announced will support efforts to reach underserved learners, including efforts to partner with rural and tribal public libraries in the U.S., interventions to support the education of children in India who were born blind and have recently recovered vision, and a program to restore agency and strengthen life skills in unaccompanied refugee youth in Athens.

Two of the awards announced address teacher capacity development, one via a place-based pK-12 curriculum for teaching critical data literacy through geographic information systems and a second through the development of a set of constructionist computational modeling activities. Additionally, a number of the programs aimed at reaching underserved learners also include teacher capacity development aspects, including an effort to support the mental health and agency of adolescents in diverse school contexts globally and a program designed to provide equitable pathways into STEM classes and careers, centering on students from non-dominant groups.

Read full descriptions of the projects receiving funding:

Dr. Peter Senge, Antoine Béland 
J-WEL & Center for Systems Awareness 
Supporting Adolescents’ Mental Health and Agency Through a Global Action-Learning Community Anchored in the Compassionate Systems Framework 
   

As eco-anxiety and COVID-19 take a toll on adolescent well-being, the team is proposing to study the effectiveness and replication potential of a promising intervention that supports the mental health and agency of adolescents in diverse school contexts globally.

Prof. Pawan Sinha
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Designing an Education Program for Newly Sighted Children  
 

A population of children in India critically needs an educational intervention that promises to have broad relevance. Children born blind, and left untreated for several years, require an education program to quickly bring them to an age-appropriate level of preparation. The program's benefits will transcend this special group.

Dr. Natalie Rusk, Jaleesa Trapp, Prof. Mitch Resnick 
MIT Media Lab
Project Propel: A Mentoring-Based Model for Engaging Students in Making Connections from Design-Based Activities to STEM Careers  
 

Project Propel engages high school students as mentors to facilitate design-based STEM activities for middle-schoolers within Tacoma Public Schools. Propel is designed to provide equitable pathways into STEM classes and careers, centering on students from non-dominant groups. This Lifelong Kindergarten group project will document and share Propel with other educators.

Prof. Eric Klopfer, Daniel Wendel
Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Computational Modeling for All: Expanding Access to Core Scientific and Computational Practices Through Agent-Based Modeling of Global Phenomena Across Cultures and Languages    


Students around the world need to understand computational modeling to comprehend many pressing global issues (e.g. COVID, climate change). With two lenses, pedagogy and access, the team will create and pilot a set of constructionist computational modeling activities for use across languages and/or with limited internet connectivity.

Martha Thompson, Heewon Lee
D-Lab
Hybrid Design Education for Unaccompanied Refugee Youth in Athens


Over 5,000 unaccompanied refugee minors have fled to Greece and live in traumatic situations without education or support. The team proposes a hybrid design education program to restore their agency and strengthen life skills. Our program bridges the education gap and facilitates their smooth transition to formal education.

Philipp Schmidt, Michelle Hlubinka, Avery Normandin
MIT Media Lab
Delivering Creative STEM Learning Programs in Rural and Tribal Public Libraries
    

For this project, the research team from the Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) at the MIT Media Lab will collaborate with rural and tribal public libraries to co-design a toolkit that addresses the challenges of delivering creative pK-12 STEM learning programs in low-resource environments.

Dr. Eric Huntley, Prof. Catherine D’Ignazio
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Building Place-Based Curricula for Critical Geospatial Data Literacy


The team will build a place-based pK-12 curriculum for teaching critical data literacy through geographic information systems. The Data + Feminism Lab and the Leventhal Map & Education Center will collaborate with teachers and learners to build teacher capacity and hone critical skills for civic engagement in a data-saturated public realm.

Illustrations: (Top) Students working through a simulation of migration and its impact in a Compassionate Systems program. (Middle) Project Prakash at work in Pawan, a village near the delta of the Ganges. (Bottom) MIT D-Lab students working with the refugee minors in the Horizon Center. All images courtesy of respective projects, used with permission.