Ethọ́s Lab (youth STEAM academy) launches physical space in Vancouver (Canada) with a block party on June 18, 2022

The Ethọ́s Lab offers extra-curricular programming through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) for youths between 12 and 18 . Here’s more from Rebecca Bollwitt’s May 17, 2022 article on her Miss604.com website, Note: A link has been removed,

… has been offering virtual, STEAM-based education (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) within an antiracist, technology-forward framework throughout the pandemic, and will now be able to add in-person programming.

Ethọ́s Lab was founded to increase access and representation in STEAM,” says parent and founder Anthonia Ogundele.

“These past two years have shown us that this goal is more important than ever before. The ‘metaverse’ has become a hot topic since Facebook’s name change to Meta, the rise of NFTs, and the digital pivot the world underwent at the start of the pandemic. Parents are realizing that their kids need equitable access to tools and information that will help them challenge and shape a digital future that is quickly arriving upon us. We need young, diverse voices co-creating innovative solutions and leading change, in order to ensure we aren’t just perpetuating antiquated, unjust systems — whether those hierarchies are found in coding, urban planning, or the art market. We can’t wait to connect with even more young people with our new home in Mount Pleasant.”

Here’s the Grand Opening/party information (from Bollwitt’s May 17, 2022 article),

Ethọ́s Lab Opens in Mount Pleasant

  • What: Opening Block Party
  • When: Saturday, June 18 from 10:00am to 8:00pm
  • Where: 177 East 3rd Ave, Vancouver
  • Admission: Free!

According to Katie Hyslop’s February 26, 2021 article for The Tyee, Ethọ́s Lab began with a search,

When Anthonia Ogundele was looking for after-school programs for her 11-year-old daughter in 2019, she was frustrated by the lack of options. Particularly when it came to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs.

“Innovation in STEM is often reserved to gifted, enrichment-type kids or programs, streams and mini-schools,” she said.

“And if you don’t have access, you end up missing out on really great project-based learning, or competitions, or even just the basic tools and equipment to be able to innovate within that space.”

Access to current STEM after-school programs can be limited by an inability to afford program fees, but also by class, race and who you know.

When Ogundele, who is Black, spoke to other parents about after-school program options, she found she wasn’t alone in her struggle. She wondered: what would a program look like that provided access for all young people, but especially Black youth, to technology and STEM skills and addressed needs like belonging and self-worth?

Hyslop’s February 26, 2021 article provides a couple of examples of early Ethọ́s Lab programmes,

… a four-week session on 3D modelling exposed young people to 3D technology and skills. The session had young people design housing specifically for Hogan’s Alley, the Black community in Vancouver that was razed in 1970 to make way for the Georgia Viaducts.

“The theme was ‘place, race and space.’ So the young people come in to learn about place, race and space, but it’s actually a 3D modelling course and they learn how to build homes in a geographical context of Hogan’s Alley,” said Ogundele, who has a master’s in urban planning and launched the Hogan’s Alley Land Trust, now known as the Hogan’s Alley Society.

“We would talk about monuments, and what it means to create or build things that have meaning and place. That’s how we contextualize it.”

Korinne Tsang’s first introduction to Ethọ́s Lab was a screen-printing session last summer [2020]. The 16-year-old student was a bit reluctant to participate at first due to shyness, but she eventually decided to give it a try.

Eight months later, Tsang is still taking Ethọ́s Lab workshops, including sessions on bias in artificial intelligence, coding and creating a personal avatar.

“One of the interesting things is we look at the bias in every part of technology, where I may try to go make an avatar in a video game. And you can’t always make one that looks like yourself because we don’t have those features, and figuring out how to change that,” said Tsang, who is of Chinese and European descent.

I gather the A (arts) was added to this STEM initiative after Hyslop’s article was written.

Bollwitt’s May 17, 2022 article describes the building which will house Ethọ́s Lab, Note: A link has been removed)

The organization is housed inside a new building owned by the City of Vancouver and operated over the next 60 years by non-profit cultural organization 221A [emphasis mine] in collaboration with the Community Land Trust. In addition to a nearly 1,000-sq.-ft. dedicated space, Ethọ́s Lab has shared access to a 2,700-sq.-ft. production facility.

The site is the physical manifestation of the thriving community that Ethọ́s Lab built in their own proprietary metaverse over the pandemic, a virtual hub called Atlanthọ́s that was co-created with youth members and developed by local tech start-up Active Replica. Now, the organization will be a hub for the broader community, a place for members and their families to gather and collaborate. 

The space features a mix of organic, sustainable materials and digital elements, and makes use of the site’s natural light. Local firm Tectonic Architecture, which prioritizes community-based work, led design discussions with youth members — also known as Ethósians — to ensure their vision was incorporated into the space. Comic artist and illustrator Jazz Gordon-Gillquist and Chase Gray (who recently designed the Vancouver Canucks’ First Nations Night warmup jersey) created an original mural in collaboration with curator Krystal Paraboo. Microsoft, Sony, and Heritage Office Furnishings equipped and furnished the space. 

Given 221A’s involvement (see my June 17, 2021 posting; scroll down to the “Arts and blockchain events in Vancouver” subhead), it’s no surprise that Ethọ́s Lab offers a course on blockchain and NFTs (nonfungible tokens).

As for events at the block party and information about Ethọ́s Lab’s summer programmes, check out Bollwitt’s May 17, 2022 article or, for events at the block party only, the Ethos Lab 3rd & Main Grand Opening page on eventbrite. Finally, the organization is fundraising and, as of May 17, 2022, was 3/4 of the way ($75,000) to their goal of $100,000.

Enjoy!

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