Innovations in STEM at Liberty Plaza

Teens with Technology

On Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6-12 teens gather for Teens With Technology (TwT) in a new "Makerspace" at Liberty Plaza Resource Center, a housing community run by the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation. At TwT, youth get to explore digital and robotic technologies. In their programming space there are gadgets and projects: circuit boards, sound recording equipment, mini-computers, building supplies, and a sewing machine, and computers - all available for youth to use. 

Through TwT, Liberty Plaza residents are able to access STEM learning opportunities that they don't have in community or school. They're also learning leadership skills.  During programming, youth learning is self-directed; they can choose what and how they will learn. Justin, one of the participants, said that his favorite activity is video game design using a program called Roblox, which enables users to imagine and create their own video game world.

Youth are also deciding how they will take the valuable skills they learn at TwT and apply them by designing and implementing social impact projects for their community - this spring, youth will be using their tech skills to expand the wifi throughout the Liberty Plaza community, enabling residents to have increased internet access.

This is TwT's first year, but they're looking to eventually grow the program. Liberty Plaza, which is run by the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation, is part of a STEM Learning Community organized by Ignite Afterschool, Minnesota's Afterschool Network. As part of this cohort, programs are able to share resources and best practices for implementing and expanding STEM programs.  West 7th Community Center (Keystone Community Services), Discovery Club (Saint Paul Community Ed), and Merrick Community Services are other Saint Paul organizations that are participating in the STEM Learning Community. 

Photo: Justin and Yusuf, TwT participants, design their own video games with the help of CTEP member Mickey Quinn.