Smart Cities and Smarter Students

November 17, 2021, 10:11pm EDT

This summer, together with the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) and Microsoft, the Partnership worked with two Savannah teachers to develop high school math curriculum based on Georgia Smart Community Challenge projects. The two teachers, Beth Jones and Rashi Kohli, worked with the City of Savannah’s Civic Data Science for Equitable Development project to frame out a classroom activity that answers the frequent student question: “When will I use this in real life?”

This activity, aptly called “What Makes a Good Neighborhood?” allows students the opportunity to assess their neighborhoods, utilizing qualitative and statistical data analysis to make data-based decisions as to how to improve the property value in their area without sacrificing the historical or personal integrity of the area. Students will be given access to public tax records as well as other data to assist them in making sound decisions. Students will also learn how neighborhood schools receive funding and how elected officials impact the area, making this a cross curricular activity.  Particular attention will be given to access to public transportation and if persons with special needs have equal access to all facets in the given area.

This structured classroom activity seeks to embrace the intersection of data and technology and its usefulness in creating safer and more efficient places to live, while also addressing the inequities that Smart Cities work to correct. Making Smart Cities curriculum available to school-aged children will allow experiential learning to translate into workforce development, preparing students not just for meeting STEM-related learning milestones, but also preparing social-minded individuals who value intersectional experiences. This effort will also widen community engagement in Smart Cities initiatives by including both teacher-fellows and K-12 students in the conversation.

After further development this classroom activity can eventually be shared with other teachers and classrooms across Georgia. As this the GIFT Internship came to close in August, we would like to celebrate the experiences of our GIFT interns and wish them success in implementing their Smart Cities curriculum in their classrooms this year. Teacher-intern Rashi Kohli reflects at the end of her experience: “I am glad that I have been allowed to be part of such an amazing, eye-opening experience. As a teacher, I always try to incorporate my life experiences into my classroom to help inspire students to pursue their dreams.  I never want my students to live in a box.”

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