Arts-Us has partnered with the Science Museum of Minnesota for several years in a variety of capacities. Most recently, we partnered to deliver a program called Bits-2-Bites: Youth Applying STEM Content and Computational Thinking to Learn about Nutrition and Advocate for Food Justice that was funded by the National Science Foundation. The project investigated how middle and high school students in an out-of-school-time (OST) environment can learn to apply computational thinking and tools to address STEM related community issues. In so doing, the project tested an innovative model for improving the engagement and capacity of middle and high school students from underrepresented populations to prepare for careers in the STEM workforce. The project operated from May 2013 to August 2017. The project engaged a primary audience of 150-200 youth in grades 7-12 from demographics that are underrepresented in STEM fields, including girls, youth of color and youth from low-income communities. After going through a facilitated process of exploring community needs for the first six months of the project, the youth decided to focus on growing healthy food year-round using hydroponics and aquaponics. They came to this focus after repeatedly hearing the community speak of challenges growing food in the harsh climate and the lack of access to healthy foods in their communities. They decided that they wanted to become experts in growing food indoors and educate their community(particularly youth) about food justice and how to grow food year-round. The youth have held numerous community workshops, sold their produce at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and presented their work across the country. We believe in empowering youth leaders in our program and the Food Justice Lab is the evolution of the youth’s learning and leadership.They now want to create a hands-on lab showing the potential of aquaponics and hydroponics to help solve issues of food deserts and food insecurity.
Funded by Twin Cities, MN (December 2017)