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Center for Digital Literacy institute brings together researchers, parents, children for exploration of inquiry, imagination, invention
Center for Digital Literacy institute brings together researchers, parents, children for exploration of inquiry, imagination, inventionNovember 13, 2006Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
When police threatened to use a sound weapon to disband protesters at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2003, techno-artist and design engineer Natalie Jeremijenko helped create parabolic reflectors to deflect the nauseating noise. To help the public identify and track air pollution, she developed Clear Skies Masks, which bikers wear as they cycle through cities to measure air quality and particulate levels. And her feral robotic dogs sniff out toxins in indoor and outdoor settings to educate the public about pollution.
Jeremijenko — whose innovative ideas have earned her numerous awards and generated interest in what she calls “information politics,” examining how and what information is released to shape public opinion — will deliver the keynote address at the Center for Digital Literacy’s (CDL) third annual Institute on Digital Empowerment on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in Grant Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public; parking is available in SU pay lots. Following her presentation, Zamboni Revolution, SU’s student improv troupe, will perform.
Named one of the top young innovators by MIT Technology Review, Jeremijenko is a professor of visual arts at the University of California-San Diego and director of the Experimental Product Design Initiative at Yale University. Her work explores the areas where political science, the life sciences, engineering and artistic expression meet.
Focused on “Inquiry, Imagination and Invention in the Digital Age,” the two-day CDL institute brings together educators, researchers, parents and children ages 8-14 to explore the creative process and its development using emerging digital technologies. It will be held Dec. 1 and 2 in Room 304 of the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center.
Space is limited at the conference, so invited guests will have preference in the reservation process. For more information on the conference, visit http://digital-literacy.syr.edu. To reserve a spot, contact Maya Kanzaria at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Center for Digital Literacy at (315) 443-6144 by Nov. 15. Attendance at Jeremijenko’s keynote address requires no reservation and is open to the public.
The event serves as the culmination of a CDL project funded by the National Science Foundation that examines children’s curiosity and motivation from multiple disciplines and perspectives, says School of Information Studies professor Ruth Small, CDL director and event organizer. She adds that the conference provides an opportunity to inaugurate CDL’s new Curiosity & Imagination Lab. Located adjacent to CDL in Hinds Hall, the interdisciplinary lab is available for use by any SU faculty or doctoral students who are doing research on the use of technology to stimulate children’s inquiry, imagination and inventiveness.
“We hope this event will put the spotlight on the phenomenal research and educational activities related to our theme that are going on worldwide,” Small says. “For example, we have the folks from Valiant Technologies in the United Kingdom who will demonstrate their latest robots in action, and Idit Harel Caperton will describe her Globaloria project that brings Israeli and Palestinian kids together through technology projects. Most of all, we hope participants will have fun while learning.”
Highlights include an Emaginarium, an all-day, hands-on opportunity for young participants to work on their creative ideas and inventions; a kid inventor panel, featuring award-winning youths who will share their secrets to successful inventions; and break-out sessions targeted for parents, children and educators.
Norm Goldstein and his daughter Cassidy will deliver a mid-day keynote address on Dec. 2 in which they’ll discuss how inventing changed their lives. Cassidy Goldstein, a sophomore communications major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, was named National Youth Inventor of the Year in 2006 by the Property Owners Education Foundation for her innovative crayon holder. Her father is founder and CEO of By Kids For Kids and serves on SU’s Parents Advisory Board and the School of Information Studies’ Board of Visitors.
“When we are born, we are all naturally curious. Young children are highly imaginative and inquisitive about their world, using all of their senses to discover and learn,” Small says. “But early on, children find their curiosity and imagination are discouraged, largely as a result of over-assessment and regimented curricula. This is sad because it is curiosity and imagination that are at the root of the great inventions and scientific discoveries and the great entrepreneurs of the world. I believe that technology can provide us with the means to help nurture, encourage and perhaps even recapture that curiosity and imagination for learning, particularly in children. This is what several of us at CDL are exploring.”
Housed within the School of Information Studies, the Center for Digital Literacy is an interdisciplinary, collaborative research and development center dedicated to understanding the impact of information, technology, and media literacies on children and adults in today’s technology-intensive society.