I met Nia Allen at several of our events in Shiprock New Mexico. She was always there, always eager to hear more, always bringing more of her kids, and eventually her neighbors kids, and always talking about her scouts. Eventually, as I was looking for potential partners for this Discovery Lab, I realized that Nia Allen was a prime candidate to be a Lab Administrator. She is a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and obviously plugged in to everything cool happening in her neck of the woods (how else would she have heard about me?), why not at least float the idea? Obviously she was thrilled at the thought and said yes right away.

Discovery Lab Size and Location and Rollout

I’m honored to be able to work with Nia, and to provide her with a Discovery Lab to Play around with. For Nia Allen we provided five Chromebooks, Five MakeyMakey devices and two Hotspots. The diversity of the materials speaks to the diversity of ways in which Nia Allen is tied in to her community. Her neighbors may be reluctant to visit Dine’ College Library to ask to borrow a laptop and hotspot for a job hunt, but they may be more comfortable asking Nia, especially if their daughter is one of her scuts. Furthermore I wanted her to have the kind of materials necessary to put on scouting events themed around Digital Inclusion and challenging maker activities.

What Makes this Lab Unique?

This lab is unique in that it is the most “complete”. It has every element from licenses to MakeyMakeys to hotspots. So far we have also seen that Nia Allen is most likely to lend out devices for a long period of time (averaging around two weeks) and lend directly to families. This lab is unique in that it reaches non college-aged students and in particular young girls, who are statistically less likely to pursue a STEM career. It gives these scouts an opportunity to investigate the digital work, and then to create inside of it in a safe way. Their parents have the opportunity to see their daughters as learners, makers, coders, and engineers, especially if they have the opportunity to learn with high quality materials.

Continued Presence and Troubleshooting

Mercifully when I drive to Shiprock from Albuquerque (a 3 ½ hour trip one way) to visit Dine’ College, I am also able to visit with Nia Allen of Troop #2009, because they are in the same location. Just as with the college, I will be visiting the troop semi-weekly until the end of the pilot. So far I have done a Q&A along side Nia Allen for the scouts and their families. This was followed by a semi-free-form computer exploration as well, but I’m happy to announce that for the next two visits I will be putting on some fun activities for the scouts, and getting the chance to debrief the family personally about their lending experience with the Discovery Lab Kits.

As of the writing of this blog every kit and component of Troop #2009’s Discovery Lab has been checked out, and are all due back at the same time before our activity on the 25th of January. This is such good news, and I can’t wait to report more on our findings for direct family lending. I predict glowing reports mixed exactly half with major technical failures and massive troubleshooting.

Thank you very much for reading, the next post will end our series of Discovery Lab Administrator Roll Call and introduce our Gallup Regional Educators. I’d like to invite you again to email me any thoughts or questions you may have so far about our Discovery Lab!