At the 2016 Philadelphia Science Festival, a massive science carnival in the city, youth from surrounding Philadelphia neighborhoods were doing more than just attending. They were debuting the games they had created from scratch about fossils, plants, or animals. Some were nervous about showing their brainchild, letting a team leader do most of the talking. Eventually though, they were drawn in, jumping in to clarify a rule or explain how to outsmart an opponent. The students, after all, were the experts.
What Happens In Intersection Partnerships?
For more than a century, educators have strived to customize education to the learner. Using the Connected Learning framework, projects of the Intersection partnerships leverage the advances of the digital age and the best of formal and informal institutional spaces to make that dream a reality. By connecting academics to interests, learners to inspiring peers and mentors, and educational goals to the higher order skills, these partnerships allow every young person to experience learning that is social, participatory, interest-driven, and relevant to the opportunities of our time.
One spring evening, about 100 third graders at Barbara Morgan STEM Academy near Boise, Idaho, invited the community to visit the museum they had built in their cafeteria. Yes, you read that right. A group of 8- and 9-year-olds had conceived, planned, and designed the exhibits the community was about to see.
The theme was machines, and each exhibit showcased how a machine had addressed some kind of problem. To learn more about machines, the students had visited the Discovery Center of Idaho. But as the partners in this project had hoped, the trip was more than a field trip. It was “field work.”
A group of administrators at Kannapolis Middle School near Charlotte, North Carolina, peeked into a classroom. The students—25 fourteen-year-olds—were typing intently on their computers, deep in thought. The administrators backed out of the door quietly. The principal whispered a goodbye to the teacher—“we don’t want to interrupt your testing,” she said.