The Tech Interactive
San Jose, California
Public Interest Technology Community Innovation Fellowship
Anja is the Program Director for Biology and Design at The Tech Interactive where she leads a team that develops new experiences to empower anyone to explore biology as a creative, problem-solving medium.
Anja has created multiple award-winning exhibitions and museum spaces, and holds a BA in Neuroscience from Pomona College and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Stanford University.
Corinne Okada Takara is San Francisco Bay Area artist/STEAM educator who works with museums, libraries, and afterschool programs to create art/technology workshops that center community voices in conversations about civic spaces, identity, and the future of technology.
She was formerly on the Board of Xinampa, a nonprofit organization that promotes technological literacy to empower diverse individuals to use biotechnology to innovate for the public interest.
This project focused on how to design culturally relevant and inclusive youth engagement around the important regional topics of agtech, biotech, and food systems.
The target audience was teens in East San Jose and Salinas, specifically Latinx and low-income youth, many of whom are children of agricultural fieldworkers. The project engaged a wide range of both scientific experts and community stakeholders to identify topics most relevant to local communities, help frame these topics, and design the forum event.
The forum was predominantly asynchronous to allow for participants without reliable access to computers and smartphones. The team created “forum kits,” containing a hands-on science engagement activity, background information, and discussion questions in both English and Spanish, which were distributed through existing community networks.
After using the kits, participants could log on to the project’s online conversation portal. Conversations were framed to center youth opinions and community contexts, including questions about whose voice needs to be present in agtech, biotech, and food systems, and what formats the youth would suggest for learning about this material. Twenty-seven people completed kit cards and 38 participated in the online dialogue.
In analyzing the results of the online conversations, the team learned that teens felt it was particularly important to engage field workers in these conversations and that interactive learning—such as hands-on activities and facility tours—was the best ways to learn about these topics. These results were shared with regional education organizations, several of which plan to offer opportunities aligned with the teens’ recommendations.