DILP teen teachers visit digital innovation sites in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign

This spring, twenty teens took a three-day trip to the Windy City, where they visited some of the city’s most well known sites. But these teens weren’t tourists. They traveled to Chicago for a series of teacher development experiences.

These youth—hailing from southern Illinois, the Peoria area, and Urbana-Champaign—are 4-H teen teachers for educational summer camps hosted by the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP), where they instruct younger students in topics related to digital literacy and innovation. During the school year, the teens support ongoing programming around digital manufacturing and digital media in their local communities.

The trip to Chicago took these young teachers to several educational and inspirational sites, where they had opportunities to see digital innovation and leadership in action at a professional level. They visited UI Labs; Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia space and Maker Lab at the Harold Washington Library Center; the Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago; and the Wanger Family Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The final day of the trip brought the students to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, where they visited the Student Sustainable Farm and toured the Woody Perennial Polyculture site; participated in a training workshop at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab; and toured the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory.

The teens, who described the experience as the trip of a lifetime, will take what they learned back to their own communities in support DILP’s mission to expand the potential for entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development, digital inclusion, and social development in Illinois.