Return of [the] GeoConvos

Map of the moon, courtesy of

By: Ilana Bruton | June 2, 2017

We began this journey many moonshots ago, way back when we were merely a team of two organizations, the Chicago History Museum (CHM) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Education. It all started with a conversation: could CHM learn from our past to build future teen initiatives? Could embodied conversations become a tool to engage teens during their museum-going experiences? Could a dot on a map unlock a personal story, and what would that mean if it did? Find out what we discovered by reading the report from the first iteration of GeoConvos.

What are/is GeoConvos?

GeoConvos is a methodology that examines place-based memories and imagined futures to understand learning pathways. It is also a set of activities that educators can use to help teens and adults reflect on their own learning and identities.

The Journey Continues

To test out our theories and experiment with different types of GeoConvos activities, we teamed up with David Bild and Michelle Rabkin at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. To our surprise, not only did the nature museum staff use GeoConvos activities, they integrated GeoConvos into their summer curriculum.

Teens at the nature museum using GeoConvos activity “How did you get here?” to share stories of their path to the Museum on that day.

While testing out GeoConvos at the Nature Museum, we also began to draft a facilitator guide to demonstrate activities at a deep dive session with fellow members of the Hive Network. To see all we accomplished during the second iteration of GeoConvos, check out our GeoConvos 2.0 final report: GeoConvos Imagining the Future – Outcomes and Measures December 2016 .

GeoConvos 3.0

It is now our third grant cycle with the Hive Fund and the GeoConvos team is bigger, hyper-focused, and ready to complete our work, or at least turn it into a fully tested product that we can share with the larger education community (so it will hopefully grow on its own).

The newest members of our team came on board after participating in the deep dive we held during GeoConvos 2.0. We’re excited to welcome the following folks:

  • Emma Martell, Learning Exploration Manager, Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Jaclyn Carmichael, Program Director, Project Exploration
  • Virginia Killian Lund, Researcher and PhD student, UIC, College of Education
  • Wendy Gonzales, Researcher and PhD student, UIC, College of Education

Together, we’ll be testing out GeoConvos in some additional summer programming, finalizing the facilitator guide, and conducting additional research. Additionally, we will train the Chicago Public Library teen service staff to become GeoConvos facilitators in fall 2017.

Throughout this yearlong grant cycle, we will share our progress through our blog, twitter account (@geoconvos), and at meetings and conferences.  The GeoConvos team invites you to join us on this venture as we launch into the final phase of the GeoConvos narrative.

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