FUSE Studios Debut in Five CPS Schools

FUSE Studios Debut in Five CPS Schools

FUSENorthwestern University’s rapidly expanding FUSE program, where children explore hands-on challenges in technology and design, is now offered at five Chicago Public Schools.

The initiative marks several firsts for FUSE, which was developed by researchers and educators at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.

  • First official yearlong FUSE course for high school students
  • First in-school FUSE program in schools serving at least 90 percent low income students
  • First FUSE course explicitly aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards

Originally designed as an informal, after-school program, FUSE is adapting to meet the needs of schools with fewer resources and less flexibility. Inside a FUSE Studio, middle and high school students experiment with science, technology, engineering, arts/design, and mathematics (STEAM) while developing important 21st century skills such as creative problem solving and collaboration.

The CPS initiative was made possible by a grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation.

“We’re excited about making FUSE an in-school program and bringing it to under-resourced schools that don’t have a lot of options for seniors,” said Henry Mann, director of education and partnerships and a research analyst at the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP).

FUSE, which has been adopted by educators from California to Finland, was co-founded by Reed Stevens, director of the FUSE program and professor of learning sciences in SESP, and Kemi Jona.

FUSE programs are underway at the following five CPS schools, which average 98 percent low-income students and 95 percent underrepresented minority students:

  • Farragut Career Academy
  • Tilden Career Community Academy
  • Raby High School
  • Bowen High School
  • Chicago Military Academy

For Stevens, the Nellie Mae Foundation funding is critical to leveling the playing field. Under-resourced schools often can’t implement innovative learning environments because of cost, so students remain burdened with out-of-date materials and educational practices, he said.

 “It’s often implied—if not stated—that students in these schools are incapable of working in these more innovative, technology-rich, open-ended environments,” Stevens said.

 “But these assumptions are at best untested and at worst false and biased,” Stevens said. “We see these schools as test cases that the innovative learning environments like FUSE can work for all kinds of schools and all kinds of young people.” 

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 9/21/16