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iEngage Summer Civics Institute is a free five-day civics day camp designed to help students learn how to make a difference in their school, neighborhood, and community. iEngage focuses on developing young people’s civic and political competence and strengthening their community and political engagement through inquiry-based civics projects in which they research and act upon local community issues. The camp utilizes an action civics model of inquiry to foster participants’ understanding of and engagement in civic life. Participants build important civic knowledge and skills as they interact with local civic leaders and elected officials, spend time at the Baylor Law School learning about the legal process, participate in a mock trial presided over by a local judge, play iCivics games, examine primary source materials at the Poage legislative library, collaborate with like-minded peers, and engage in a community issues advocacy project. Targeting middle school youth, iEngage is designed to help students learn about the structure of government, what it means to be an active and engaged citizen in their community, and how they can work to make a change even as young people. Campers are assigned to small groups based on grade level. Preservice and in-service teachers serve as the counselors for each of these small groups. Students are assigned to small groups to select an issue in their community and carry out an inquiry project that culminates in public presentations of their recommendations. Additional activities include a field trip to a legislative library to explore primary source artifacts related to civic engagement, simulations and interactions about effective communication and deliberation with local area attorneys at a university law school, interfaces with local civic and political leaders about their role in the community, and learning about civic processes. By spending a week immersed in learning civic principles and engaging in fun, age-appropriate civic activities students gain valuable civics content knowledge and apply this knowledge in a real-world setting. iEngage provides an opportunity for young people to explore how local, state, and national governments are responding to issues that all citizens face and how they, as young people, can get involved in creating change.
This free institute is generously funded by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation. This site showcases the advocacy projects and blogs completed by iEngage participants. In the following pages, you will find details about the institute as well as samples of student projects. For more details about this institute feel free to contact iCivics@baylor.edu.