Why It Matters
The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research’s 2015 report "Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework" cites three key factors for young adult success: agency, an integrated identity, and competencies. The Changemakers Data Fair gave students the opportunity to cultivate all three factors. As the report states, agency is the ability to make choices and take an active role in managing one’s life path. For the fair, students chose their own topics and research models, and proposed their own solutions to the social issues on which their research focused. The second factor, an integrated identity, entails possessing a core sense of self, which includes a sense of future possibilities. The fair allowed students to witness their classmates grapple with directly relevant and consequential topics, motivating them to recognize their collective potential in enacting change in the world. The third factor, competencies, includes the ability to adapt to the demands of different settings. The interdisciplinary character of the projects allowed the students to develop broadly applicable skills, such as those related to discretionary thinking, organization, and public speaking. Overall, the Changemakers Data Fair supported students to become not only learners of content, but also successful young adults.
Inspiring Civic Engagement
Seventh graders from the UChicago Charter School’s Woodlawn Campus (UCW) presented research projects about social and economic issues at the Changemakers Data Fair in June of 2017. Organized by UCW teachers who are graduates of the UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP), the fair gave students opportunities to develop interdisciplinary, data-driven arguments on how to foster social change. Students researched topics ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to immigration and health care. They then proposed concrete steps to address the issues or questions their research raised. For example, seventh-grader Jayla White was interested in Laquan McDonald’s shooting in 2014. She based her project on the accountability of police officers, and then went a step further: she surveyed the UCW community about interactions with police officers and intends to communicate the survey results to the Chicago Police Department. Another seventh-grader, Rhonni Durham, observed her daily social media interactions with friends and focused her project on the negative health impacts of technology. She also aims to take her project further by making a short film about social media to present to the UCW community.