Harriet Tubman Institute hosts digital camps for young inventors

Two digital camps run by the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas, out of York University, successfully engaged youth in 2017 and will look toward 2018 to continue those opportunities.

High school students in the Black Creek community engaged the digital world from an historical lens through digital camps

During the months of March and October, high school students in the Black Creek community engaged the digital world from an historical lens through digital camps. In the mornings they explored the International African Inventors Museum, which was established and curated by Francis Jeffers. Students delved into the rich experiences of black inventors, and considered how patents created by Africans and diasporic peoples have changed the world.

Students also participated in group discussions, led by Tubman associates, to discuss how the term ‘black inventor’ related to their lived experiences. In the afternoons they harnessed their creativity, developed their computing skills and became inventors themselves.

The March Break camp was held in collaboration with Tech Spark and York U community partner Access Alliance. After being familiarized with the User X experience, students used MoqupsTM to develop mobile apps that make it easier to find black contributions to science and technology on the Internet.

During the final presentation, one student said, “Before I started camp I didn’t feel smart. Now I feel smart and know it’s not that hard to make an app.”

The October camp was a two-day intensive workshop supported by a Fulbright Community Leadership grant and held in collaboration with the Augmented Reality Lab, York University. Educators from Anansi Tek Club and Seebright led students in building next-generation augmented reality see-through headsets and developing an app for an augmented reality experience based on Nubian history.

The programs offered youth an opportunity to learn technology in a way that they also saw themselves as part of a continuum of inventors.

These programs would not have been possible without volunteers Dadrien Brown, Cameron Eidlitz, Fernanda Sierra and Bruno Véras. The financial support of the York TD – CEC Catalyst Grant and Fulbright Community Leadership Program Grant was invaluable to the program.

More information on the Institute’s next camp, in summer 2018, will be forthcoming.