The Essence of The ILLEST Lab
The Informal Learning Linking Engineering Science and Technology (ILLEST) Lab serves as a beacon for creativity, collaboration, and mentorship for the West Philadelphia community. Our programming efforts are focused on science, technology, engineering, arts/advocacy/access, mathematics (STEAM) competencies, with a direct foundation in arts, advocacy, and access for all minoritized populations. We hope to inspire K-16 minoritized participants in the West Philadelphia Community to explore hands-on activities within a welcoming learning environment and provide them with the connections, resources, and competencies to be successful in their own chosen career paths. We value the cultural insights and prior experiences that students bring into the ILLEST lab. The lab uses a culturally sustaining framework in order to facilitate an open, informal STEAM learning environment that supports and embraces minoritized populations and reinforces students’ knowledge in STEAM found in their everyday life and cultural experiences.
What We Do
We provide our students and the surrounding community with a supportive learning environment focused on STEAM learning and programming. Our workshops and programming are designed to support and advocate culturally sustaining teaching through curricular design, reflection, and participant feedback. The ILLEST Lab intentionally designs STEAM projects and spaces to empower minoritized participants to share stories and express their voices. We challenge participants to expand their understanding of creative and cultural expressions by providing just-in-time access to professional tools to hone their competencies and confidence. Our direct outcome is to support students in the transfer of their acquired knowledge and skills to redesign, regenerate, and rebuild structures of their communities for sustainable growth.