How 4youth Productions is helping 5th-8th graders build art-tech mashups - Technical.ly Delaware

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May 14, 2015 10:25 am

How 4youth Productions is helping 5th-8th graders build art-tech mashups

Cofounder Theresa Emmett is teaching photography, circuitry and programming basics.
Two 4youth Productions students working with Arduino.

Two 4youth Productions students working with Arduino.

(Photo courtesy of Theresa Emmett)

Photographer Theresa Emmett is teaching underprivileged Wilmington youth basic entrepreneurship through STEAM. She does so through her nonprofit, 4youth Productions.

“We teach science in combination with photography, engineering and the culinary arts,” Emmett said. “By combining our programs, we not only teach academic success to our kids, but they create amazing art.”

Emmett takes it one step further by taking the kids — all 5th-8th graders — to art shows and festivals, where they’re responsible for selling their own art. The profits then go towards a college fund. The last art festival Emmett took the students to was in Hoboken, N.J.

“We work with them on learning how to engage other people,” she said. “They tend to be shy in the beginning, but it’s been a great confidence builder for them.”

A student’s “circuit city.” (Courtesy photo)

Emmett founded 4youth Productions about two years ago, alongside friend and fellow educator and scientist Janae Dupree and digital artist Raphaël Dahan. Throughout the year, the founders work with kids on a number of different projects. Recently, students learned about programming and circuitry.

“We did a whole program where kids are beginning to learn about Arduino and learning how to program sensors and solder,” she said. Dupree had the kids build and program “circuit cities” with small animals and people soldered into them, which they then photographed and framed.

Emmett said she holds the students’ photography standards to the same standards of professionalism she learned while studying at the University of Delaware. According to her, they take it very seriously — but are still able to have a blast in the process.

“They love it. They have so much fun,” Emmett said. “Sometimes I think I may be having as much fun, if not more fun, than they do.”

Next on the list? According to Emmett, her and Dupree will be familiarizing the students with robotics, building on some of the programming skills they’ve already learned. None have prior experience with programming.

“It was a big feat for them in the beginning,” she said, adding that at first the kids were hesitant to learn because they were afraid to fail. “It was a lot of pushing in the beginning, but they’re making amazing strides. We have an amazing group of kids.”

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