Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Exploring Central America through Game-Based Learning

July 1st, 2019

Schools in the U.S. are seeing record numbers of students coming in from Central America. In addition, the current issues of immigration and climate change have K-12 educators eager to prepare themselves with a better understanding of the roots of immigration while creating important connections to their classroom. This past June, 33 K-12 educators from across the United States travelled to Nashville, TN to attend the People and Environment of Central America Summer 2019 K-12 Educator Institute hosted by “Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies” and sponsored by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute at the University of Georgia and the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. This year’s summer teacher institute was organized by Colleen McCoy (Vanderbilt University).

Participants learned about climate change through public opinion surveys with the work of LAPOP (Latin American Public Opinion Project). Professor Ashley Carse, (Vanderbilt University) shared the importance of global shipping with his talk on the Panama Canal. Professor Avery Dickins de Girón (Vanderbilt University) walked the group through Vanderbilt’s latest collaborative, a Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden. She provided a key historical background to U.S./Central American politics which helped ground participants for the rest of the institute. Professor Jack Crowley (University of Georgia) discussed collaboratives with universities in Honduras. The group heard from a rising senior in high school, Katherine Wright (Hillwood High School) and her self-made solar oven, a project that could be a feasible solution to communities in Central America. Participants learned about innovations in narco-deforestation and the amazing work of ACOFOP with a full day workshop given by Professor Jennifer Devine (Texas State University). In addition, participants learned about connecting the complex issues of the institute through the use of children’s and young adult literature from Denise Woltering-Vargas (Tulane University). Afternoon curriculum design sessions were conducted each day by Stephanie Knight (University of Oregon, Center for Applied Linguistics) who engaged everyone in hands-on collaborative gaming strategies to enhance higher order learning.

This year’s summer institute is the first in a series of summer teacher institutes exploring Central America. Next year’s summer teacher institute will be hosted by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA mid July 2020. Summer 2021 will be hosted by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and summer 2022 will be abroad in Central America. If you missed this year’s institute, consider joining us next year.

For the full list of speakers from this year’s institute, please download the final itinerary here.

Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt University, June 2019.

Central America + People
Constantino Urcuyo
Academic Director - Centro de Investigación y Adiestramiento Político Administrativo