Program Leads: Sepehr Vakil; Aaron Nakai; Aekta Shah, Ed.M
Community based program; design thinking; social justice; Mobile Apps
To use principles of design thinking in conjunction with a social justice framework to engage marginalized urban youth in new knowledge construction in an after school program.
Context: The exemplary experience was reflected in the work of a 12-week class entitled Mobile Apps for Social Justice. Students in the project came up with an idea for developing an app to support local teenager’s academic and extracurricular needs by allowing them to search for organizations in their immediate areas.
Program The Oakland Science and Math Outreach (OSMO) program is an after-school community based program located
at the Boys and Girls Club on 3300 High St.
This project has as its fundamental principal that knowledge construction in technology and the design of devices in conjunction with
requisite skills in math and science opens new
opportunities for students and educators to pursue positive human development and equitable societal change.
Through the OSMO app creation process a number of considerations regarding new knowledge construction were
documented, including how new knowledge was created as material intelligence within digital devices. The students
gained a deep, contextualized understanding of the problem they were trying to solve that included identifying users
and their needs and constraints, developing and advocating for design ideas, and building a relevant data base.
Because they had to conduct a social analysis, the project facilitated these youth developing knowledge of larger
social issues surrounding and motivating the need for the app. It also offered multiple ways for the youth to utilize
a wide range of digital tools and demonstrate increasing levels of competency within the project [practice principle,
distributed principle]. It allowed them to make choices regarding what and how they learned in order to complete the
project [multiple routes]. And, it changed their sense of relationships with their instructors as the youth themselves
became more expert, particularly as they were able to draw on their own personal experiences to inform specific
features that would make the app accessible to the prospective users [distributed principle].
OSMO hopes to provide an opportunity for students in low-income and urban neighborhoods to succeed in math and the sciences. OSMO also hopes to create a safe community for students and volunteers to work together to better prepare for the STEM questions of the future.