In my diverse and mostly low income urban community, parents of our youth teachers are sometimes fearful about having their children engage with technology. This is because often the only technologies that they are familiar with are ones that they associate with risks and danger for their children: facebook, video games, texting and the like. These parents often are unfamiliar with the creative possibilities of technology that our youth teachers engage in Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn and don't know about all the satisfying careers associated with STEAM.
I wanted to find more ways to get parents of our youth teachers to understand how important Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn can be so they would be more supportive of our youth teachers' jobs! I read about how Iridescent LA was engaging diverse families in STEM as a strategy and became interested in exploring family STEM experiences.
I found a kindred spirit in Ricarose Roque at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarten Group a couple of years ago. She was developing a series of "Family Creative Learning Workshops" that had a great format. She arranged a set of workshops that had groups of families come in after work, eat dinner together and spend a couple of hours doing coding with scratch and physical programming with MaKey MaKeys together.
I volunteered at a few of these workshops and even hosted one at the South End Technology Center @ Tent City. They rocked! The families bonded and the interactions between parents and children were amazing. Often, the children caught on more quickly than the parents and became "teachers." Ricarose had some breakout time with parents to talk about their hopes and fears about their children's experiences with technology.
Ricarose continued to refine her work and has produced an excellent "Creative Learning Workshop" guide to help other folks who want to organize Family STEM events. I think that these kinds of events would be great ways to develop school/teacher/parent relationships.
Here is an article about Ricarose and her work, as well as a link to the guide that she has created:
and here is a little video that gives you an idea of what happens in such a workshop series: