More than 90 fifth- through ninth-graders tackled real-world problems and learned how to make a difference in their communities when they attended the second annual iEngage camp in the Baylor School of Education (SOE). The camp was Aug. 11-15 on the Baylor campus.
Campers identified a community problem, collected data, proposed a solution and then advocated for their plan. And their plans were big—including the improvement of school lunches, and anti-drug, anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs.
“iEngage empowers youth to be change agents and teaches them that they do have a voice,” said Dr. Karon LeCompte, iEngage co-creator and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor SOE.
iEngage is a continuation of the research of LeCompte and Dr. Brooke Blevins, co-creator of the camp and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, researching and implementing 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. Playing iCivics games was integrated into the camp, and Blevins and LeCompte collected student data for further research.
The camp focused on local issues, and campers heard from a city council member, the Waco city manager and U.S. Rep. Bill Flores. Representatives from local nonprofits attended and taught students about community needs. Campers also visited the Baylor Law School, where lawyers and a judge demonstrated how argumentation and the judicial system are integral to civic action.
The camp is free, funded by a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.
Students displayed their projects at a community fair on Friday, where they showed videos, murals, billboards and poetry they had produced.
“I am always encouraged and amazed at the quality of work these young people produce, at how articulate and thoughtful they are,” Blevins said. “If we want our future leaders to be educated, to be informed and to take action, we have to start at this young age. I believe Baylor University and the School of Education are on the forefront of doing just that.”