Since 2014, Community Guilds has focused on delivering an innovative, gap-closing approach to education through its mobile makerspace, STE(A)M (Science, Technology, Engineering, (Arts), and Math) Truck, targeting elementary and middle school students. The STE(A)M Truck experience is anchored by a rigorous, experiential learning-based curriculum, which is brought to life in a mobile maker-space with the support and collective expertise of the local community. STE(A)M Truck creates a community of adult STE(A)M role models – “maker-mentors,” STE(A)M designers, and local artists, along with “traditional” educators – and connects them closely with youth; together, they tackle real problems, design solutions, and build things. Over the course of the program, students learn the design process and develop a sense of self-efficacy as they create their own solutions. Community Guilds also strikes a chord with educators, who become inspired themselves by the experience and the impact on students, and leave better-equipped to bring similar instructional concepts and methodologies into the classroom.
In its first full year of operation, over 300 students completed a STE(A)M Truck 20 day program. Community Guilds has partnered with several organizations, including district schools (e.g., Atlanta Public Schools), charter schools and networks (e.g., KIPP Metro Atlanta, The Kindezi Schools), and community organizations (e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta). Community Guilds’ programming has also helped build students’ non-cognitive skills – and awareness of a breadth of life opportunities – they need to be successful:
- 97%+ of students improved non-cognitive skills
- 90%+ of students performed at satisfactory competency levels on non-cognitive skills
- Increased student interest and willingness to take risks and try new things in learning
- Improved classroom behavior (e.g., significant decline in discipline referrals)
STEM skills and awareness
- 87%+ of students have improved applied STEM skills
- 2/3 (and as high as 90%) of students perform at satisfactory competency levels on STEM skills
- 73%+ of students have increased interest and confidence in pursuing a STEM career
The overall value proposition is powerful. Community Guilds enables students in even the least- resourced schools to access making-focused learning experiences, and gives districts and schools the opportunity to explore the benefits of an innovation lab without building one, while beginning to deepen their own capacity around experiential learning.