Tasked with making a social justice-oriented project for Art All Night, Assemble's students from PPS Arsenal Middle School After School Activation Club collaboratively to designed an interactive art piece entitled “Youth Perspectives on Police Brutality.” After discussions about community issues and social justice topics the students felt most connected to, they began this project by experimenting with different forms of media and having in-depth discussions about police brutality and racism, their chosen topic. Through this brainstorming process, students ultimately decided to create a large papier mache sculpture of a gun with a peace flag (and the text “Stop police brutality”) coming out of it. They wanted the project to feature the perspectives of young people who they feel are impacted by but often left out of conversations on racism and police brutality. They chose to do this by creating a Scratch-based audio interface that played audio recordings of interviews with their fellow Activation Club participants. By adding MaKey MaKey-compatible conductive “buttons” to their sculpture and connecting MaKey MaKey to their Scratch interface, they were able to make their sculpture interactive. When finished, each button on the sculpture activated a recording with a different student sharing their experiences with police brutality, their thoughts on why and how it happens, and what they think can and should be done about it. This piece was showcased at Art All Night. Activation Club was a collaboration between Arts Out Loud and Assemble. It was supported by a Remake Learning Grant from the Sprout Fund.
Assemble is a community space for arts and technology located in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. Assemble provides free and reduced-cost STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming to underserved populations, with an emphasis on building community and confidence through making. Assemble presents opportunities for hands-on learning for all ages during classes, workshops, learning parties and more. Assemble’s STEAM-based education programs incorporate multiple academic disciplines, promote connected learning through peer-to-peer education, and activate a diverse set of learning skills. All of Assemble’s classes and workshops support the development of 21st Century skills. The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (p21.org) identifies four critical skills students need to develop in order to succeed in work, life and citizenship: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Classes and workshops at Assemble typically have a 10:1 student to educator ratio.