Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn

Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Logo

Basic Information

Address: 359 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA
Phone Number: 617.578.0597
Fax Number: 617.578.0755

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Additional Information

Focus: Engaging a critical mass of 3-5000 Boston youth in emerging sciences and technologies to create cultural change in our communities about what is possible to achieve

South End Technology Center @ Tent City with support from research groups at the MIT Media Laboratory

Director: Mel King
Schools Served: Boston Public Schools
School District: City of Boston
County: Suffolk
Schedule: Summers and Fall and Winter Programs
Ages: Youth teachers 14-18, youth participants 8-13
Capacity: We serve about 40 teenaged youth teachers and about 4-500 youth participants each year
Membership/Pricing: Youth teachers are paid to learn and teach; all programs for youth 8-13 are free

Community technology centers and community organizations


Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn is a program of the South End Technology Center @ Tent City, a 501(c)(3) Timothy Smith Computer Learning and Education Center that began with the vision of Mel King, a former Massachusetts state representative, MIT Senior Lecturer emeritus and lifelong Boston South End resident with over fifty years experience in youth and community development.

Mel saw a need in the community for access to technology and the opportunities associated with it, and in 1997, with the support of Tent City Corporation and MIT, the South End Technology Center was created at Tent City , a mixed income housing community. Our aim is to facilitate the use of technology in ways that encourage people to become innovators and producers, to tell their stories, and to learn other ways of creating just and humane communities.

Our five year old Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Program addresses an ever-widening technology and science gap between various economic and ethnic sectors in Massachusetts that is coupled with an education system that neither provides the foundation for study nor encourages our youth to explore cutting edge research and applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Our program also seeks to develop a new respect in our youth for their own intelligence and learning. Too often we hear our youth tell us that to be smart and knowledgeable is something to hide, not something to make part of one's identity. We try to address this by encouraging our youth to take pride in their intelligence and show off their genius by designing and building projects, engaging in problem solving and seeing obstacles as important opportunities for growth in learning.

Program staff collaborate with the MIT Media Laboratory Center for Bits and Atoms, Lifelong Kindergarten Group and the Future of Learning Group to bring the latest technologies and sciences into the curriculum.

Program Highlights:

The Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Program:

* Hires 40 youth teachers aged 14-19 from across Boston and pays them to both learn and teach emerging sciences and technologies.

* Youth teachers train during April - June spending time both at the South End Technology Center @ Tent City and the MIT Media Laboratory acquiring skills in six to eight emerging technologies and sciences.

* Youth teachers spend the first part of the summer desigining and building projects that both demonstrate their confidence and competence what they have learned, but also solve some problem in the community that they feel is important to address.

* Youth teachers spend the last three weeks of the summer teaching 8-13 year olds from our fifteen community organization partners what they have learned.

* Some youth teachers continue on in the fall and winter, gaining more skills and offering 6-8 week after school programs for youth aged 8-13.


The Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn program operates in three stages:
Spring after-school skill-building program. Our staff and the college mentors engage the teen youth teachers with emerging science and technology: robotics, web programming, computer graphics & animation, alternative energy, digital videography, hyperscore musical composition and design fabrication. We use the latest science teaching methods that apply an integrated STEM subject approach instead of teaching all the subjects separately and communicate theoretical information largely through hands-on project-based learning.

Summer project-building and community teaching component. We begin with a three-week period during which the youth teachers demonstrate their "hands-on" competency by collaborating in small groups on the design and building of a project that addresses a problem in their community and involves least three emerging technologies and sciences. Youth projects have included a robot designed to detect and destroy land mines, a model hydrogen fuel cell car that also uses solar panels, a model bridge powered by a chemical battery, and a levee/buoy system that that uses infrared lights to detect flood level waters. At the same time, our youth work in groups to devise a teaching manual that covers each of the emerging technologies. Projects are presented at an exposition, so that people in the community can see and appreciate what our youth have accomplished.

There is an old saying that: "if you really want to learn something, go teach it." In the last three weeks of the summer, the youth teachers "teach to learn," moving their skills and infectious enthusiasm out into fifteen different community organization sites to share what they have learned and serve as emissaries to youth aged 8-13 years old. Each day they meet to reflect on their teaching and how better to help each other and the young people they serve.

In the fall and winter, we have begun to offer after-school programs at community organizations. We hire the youth teachers who have demonstrated leadership qualities and who live in the neighborhoods served by the community organizations. College mentors continue to work with youth teachers to increase skill building and mentoring skills.