Mayor Emanuel Visits Teens Participating in FUSE Summer Learning Program

Mayor Emanuel Visits Teens Participating in FUSE Summer Learning Program

Fuse Summer Learning

Cool skill-building activities to keep teens learning while school’s out have been the summer specialty of the FUSE drop-in program, developed by School of Education and Social Policy professors Kemi Jona and Reed Stevens. FUSE participated in Chicago’s Summer of Learning initiative with a temporary studio at the Chicago Cultural Center, and on July 25 Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by to visit.

Printing 3D jewelry designs, creating phone apps and mixing digital music are just a few of the design activities FUSE has offered in the STEAM Studio at the Cultural Center. There, teens have had a chance to use a variety of design and production tools to create artifacts and earn digital badges inspired by STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The Chicago Summer of Learning initiative offers learning opportunities across the city.

The FUSE program was designed to draw young people into STEAM with highly motivating hands-on activities and to build skills with the kind of leveling-up platform used in video games. FUSE meets during the school year at libraries, schools and youth centers where students can drop in after school and on Saturdays for STEAM challenges.

FUSE challenges involve robotics, electronics, phone app development, sound mixing and fashion design. These are some of the challenges teens can experience:

  • Make a robot navigate an obstacle course
  • Create a unique phone ringtone
  • Combine LED lights to produce a rainbow
  • Design jewelry and glasses print them in 3D
  • Make a robot navigate an obstacle course
  • Build a music amplifier
  • Customize a mobile phone app
  • Build a light display
  • Customize clothing to light up 

“In the same way that players ‘level up’ in a video game, teens can ‘level up’ through FUSE challenges, which provide an engaging way for them to tackle increasingly difficult tasks,” says Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP).

As teens leveled up through the jewelry design challenge at the STEAM Studio, they were mentored by Terran Sapp, who works at Christopher Duquet Jewelry in Evanston. Teens learned how to use Google SketchUp to design their own custom jewelry pieces in 3D and printed them out on 3D printers.

A new aspect of FUSE that was implemented through Summer of Learning is a digital badging system, where students earn badges as they demonstrate achievement. Badges are intended to motivate and recognize learning, as well as give learners digital credentials that show the skills that they have developed

“We see FUSE as an on-ramp to deeper learning experiences in STEAM,” says Amy Pratt, associate director of OSEP. FUSE operates at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library, Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago, Evanston Township and Wheeling high schools and the Teen Loft at the Evanston Public Library. The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17