Civics Engagement Camp helps students impact communities
More than 60 fifth-through 10th-graders participated in iEngage, a civics engagement summer camp Aug. 12-14 at Baylor University, where they learned how to make a difference in their neighborhoods, schools and communities and build leadership skills.
"iEngage presents students with the idea of civic leadership and the notion of public service at a young age. The students research community issues they believe need to be improved or changed and learn ways to address those issues. iEngage empowers youth to be change agents themselves," said Dr. Karon LeCompte, iEngage co-creator and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the Baylor School of Education.
The camp is free, thanks to a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.
iEngage is a continuation of LeCompte's and Dr. Brooke Blevins', iEngage co-creator and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Baylor, research and implementation of iCivics in Midway and Waco Independent School Districts. iCivics is a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that teaches civics concepts using 16 educational games.
As part of the camp, students heard from U.S. Rep. Bill Flores and met Baylor President Ken Starr and other community leaders, play iCivics video games, created a multimedia project focusing on a community issue of their choice and participated in a mock trial at the Baylor Law School. Justice Tom Gray, Justice Rex Davis and attorney Greg White served as moot court justices and provided the children with feedback on their legal arguments at the trial.
Blevins and LeCompte facilitated a two-day training session to prepare teachers to serve as iEngage camp counselors.
"Our teachers' institute represents the new model of professional development where teachers receive training and are immediately able to practice techniques and skills with children versus waiting several weeks to implement their new strategies," LeCompte said.
Armed with trained teachers and eager students, Blevins believes that the program is poised to make an impact.
"This program teaches students to be advocates for their communities and use their civic knowledge in meaningful and impactful ways," Blevins said.
For more information on iEngage, visit baylor.edu/soe/iengage.