Ja’Sonta Roberts is the Off-Site Programs Manager for Assemble Pittsburgh. Their vision is to cultivate empowered youth and adults who are confident in their skills and STEAM experiences, enabling them to see their projects to fruition. She is currently redefining the “YOUTopia” programming at Assemble to serve more minority and immigrant populations in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.

“YOUTopia: Making the Future” motivates participants to develop their ideas through the design process, and build confidence in working with new materials while also learning digital media communication skills.  Participants learn to trust themselves while problem-solving and troubleshooting issues in their designs. Within the context of historical, cultural, and fictional utopias, precedents of AfroFuturistic artwork, and contemporary technology like Virtual Reality, “YOUtopia’s” curriculum incorporates STEAM assets, written reflection and brainstorming, and creative problem solving as a means of expressing one’s ideas. 

Participants are most engaged and motivated through Assemble programs such as “YOUTopia” through hands-on projects, bringing their ideas to fruition. Using the design process, students get the chance to experiment with ideas in a sketchbook while concurrently planning and making. This encourages feedback loops and social learning, further garnering interest. “YOUTopia” is a new, responsive Assemble curriculum that builds on our success with our Make It!, Activation Club, after-school, and young adult programs. Some of the hands-on projects to be included are electronic gadgets, stop-motion animations, audio design, mixed media art pieces/installations, and technology-enhanced clothing. 

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