Impact Story

The STEAMuseum: Connecting Chicago and Casablanca

Chicago Sister Cities International

Chicago Sister Cities International’s STEAMuseum project connects students in Chicago and Casablanca to create digital exhibits for what will eventually be a global online museum.

The goal of the STEAMuseum project is to challenge students to collaborate and get to know one another, and in the process develop a new kind of cultural digital space that engages their generation. STEAMuseum builds on a longstanding sister cities arrangement between Chicago and Casablanca, where Neighborhoods Association IDMAJ is serving as the partner for the project.

The topic of the first museum exhibit was inspired by the discovery of a Spinosaurus fossil, an enormous dinosaur that rivals America’s T-Rex, in Morocco in 2008. The comparison to the T-Rex gave educators in the program an opportunity to explore and compare ancient worlds, teaching important lessons about biodiversity and climate change, topics that are essential to solving today’s global environmental crises.

Over the course of the project, U.S. educators traveled to Morocco, and Moroccan educators visited the United States in order to receive technology training, build and refine the program’s curriculum, and meet with students enrolled in the program. The trips also helped them bond as a team and reinforced their passion for internationalizing their classrooms.

“Students were encouraged to travel to the Arab world after they connected with students [in Morocco,]” said Fadi Abughosh, Arabic teacher at Lindblom Math and Science Academy (LMSA) in Chicago. International travel can be expensive or inaccessible, he said, making virtual exchange the best way for his students to have an international experience. He noted that the program has helped his students discover new cultures and develop communication and language skills.

“Any time that my students get access to tech and what’s happening in real-life science, I move closer to my goal of introducing students to science careers, which translates into economic opportunity and the ability to move into a different economic class.”

Tiffany Childress, Chemistry teacher and Civic Engagement Director, Chicago High School

For Tiffany Childress, Chemistry teacher and Civic Engagement Director at North Lawndale College Prep High School in Chicago, this was the first exchange program her students had ever participated in, and the first time they used technology in the classroom. “Any time that my students get access to tech and what’s happening in real-life science, I move closer to my goal of introducing students to science careers, which translates into economic opportunity and the ability to move into a different economic class.” Tiffany said.

Sam, a Chicago student, said that the STEAMuseum program increased his interest in exploring science, using technology, and enhancing his Arabic skills. “As the program went on,” he explained, “I noticed that my interest in those areas began to grow, especially when we started talking about Spinosaurus.”

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