Tio Dottin in Energizing



Temple University’s Urban Apps & Maps Studios has kicked off its Apps & Maps Summer BITS Program once again in 2015. The program serves to teach Philadelphia youth digital literacy skills such as design thinking, computational thinking and spatial thinking through various hands-on projects. We hope that in the long-term, these projects will inspire the youth to face urban challenges head-on with a digital mindset.

On July 6th, 140 boys and girls from the Philadelphia School District gathered in front of the Howard Gittis Student Center ready to enrich themselves in a professional environment for the next six weeks. With supervision from Temple University undergraduate mentors and  faculty members, program participants will explore interdisciplinary topics relating to Neuroscience, Media Production, Computer & Information Science, Coding, Business, Women’s Studies & English, Management & Information Science and Geography & Urban Studies.

On the first day, the participants spent time trying to get to know one another through various ice-breaker activities led by their mentors. Some groups even met with their faculty advisors, who began to lay out the groundwork for their summer projects.

The program participants are split into two tracks–the Service Learning Model and the Internship Model. The Internship Model consists of projects relating to social media, science and digital technology that have the potential to affect change in urban spaces, particularly in North Philadelphia. The Service Learning Model, on the other hand, focuses more on geographic fieldwork techniques to solve urban problems–specifically concerning economic opportunity, personal environmental health, safety and the arts. All participants will establish a basic foundation of IT literacy skills and will display their work in a final showcase at the end of the program.


Temple University Professor Joyce Joyce discussing African-American poetry with youth.

Temple University Professor Joyce Joyce discussing African-American poetry with youth.




In an effort to become more familiar with Temple University’s campus, some groups also participated in a scavenger hunt led by the mentors. The participants were expected to find various landmarks on campus, which allowed them to utilize spatial thinking skills.

Later in the first week, participants will learn design-thinking skills by participating in a Design Challenge–aiming to help the youth problem solve through the process of design. This challenge outlines the nature of program for the next six weeks as the youth will begin to face their first urban challenges during their summer projects.

This program is funded by the EDA, the Knight Foundation and the Philadelphia Youth Network.


Written By: Sienna Vance

Photos By: Sienna Vance & Sarah Heck