Providing afterschool and summer programs focused on STEM and Information Technologies.

Program Name: Green Energy Technology in the City (GET City)

Location: East Lansing, MI

Type of Program: Afterschool and summer programs

Students Served: Middle school students

The Program: Green Energy Technology in the City (GET City) provides afterschool and summer programs for middle school students in East Lansing, MI, focused on STEM and information technologies (IT). Founded in 2006 through a partnership between Michigan State University and the Boys & Girls Club of Lansing, the program exposes students to advanced digital technology, maker spaces and a community network of experts to expand students’ understanding of and interest in energy and engineering. Using digital tools, students explore local and national scientific issues and educate others through multimedia kits that include digital public service announcements, podcasts, raps and more.

The Challenge: GET City had to overcome two main challenges in order to successfully integrate digital media and learning. First, afterschool programs, in general, may find it difficult to identify the best ways to use digital tools to support their program objectives due to limited opportunities for professional development and lack of collaboration among programs. Second, afterschool programs are enlisted to address the new digital divide in which higher-income youth are more likely to create content - like blogs, video and digital art - and lower-income youth are more likely to consume content - such as watching television or interacting on social media. Overall, most children are “content consumers” and are missing out on key 21st century skills that will prepare them for higher education and the workforce.

The Success: Through their afterschool and summer programs, GET City is able to successfully incorporate digital media and learning into their program offerings to develop students’ technology skills. Participating students gain knowledge in energy technologies, production and sustainability while developing advanced IT skills (i.e., GIS, data analysis tools, communication tools, etc.). An evaluation conducted by the Brown Education Alliance showed that participation in the program significantly increased technology skills and impacted students’ aspirations and expectations. Students became STEM experts and teachers through digital tools and media, empowering them to have a voice and take action in school settings and in the community. Through the GET City program, students become “content creators” and are prepared for growing IT markets and future STEM careers.

Visit GET City’s website to learn more about their mission and to check out their specific projects.