Students from East St. Louis are documenting the culture and history of their hometown, while gaining valuable knowledge and computer skills, by participating in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Digital East St. Louis program. Now in its third year, the program continues to incorporate new interactive projects for the students, with the underlying goal of inspiring a love for STEM through creative digital humanities content.
Digital East St. Louis, a project supported by a National Science Foundation ITEST grant, is a collaboration between Southern Illinois University’s STEM Center and the IRIS Center for the Digital Humanities to design programming that encourages newfound interest in technology via a place-based approach to the digital humanities. I serve as the project’s curriculum director, alongside STEM’s Instructional Designer Matthew Johnson and English Professor Howard Rambsy.
A critical challenge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education continues to be keeping young students on a pathway to a successful STEM career once they have entered it. Many students express an early interest in STEM and even start down the road to obtaining a STEM degree, only to change direction later, an aspect of the so-called “leaky pipeline.” Underrepresented minority students, in particular, face serious roadblocks to entering and staying on the path.