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Birmingham’s South Hampton K-8 Students Create Podcast on Global Topics

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South Hampton K-8 podcast team: Front row, Aaliyah Hall, left, eighth grade; Rhona Jordan, eighth grade. Back row, Dermetrius Clay, eighth grade; Paris Lee, seventh grade. Standing, Tambra Clark, librarian specialist. (Sym Posey, The Birmingham Times)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

South Hampton K-8 School students have created and host a weekly podcast to have candid conversations about world issues.

Recorded in the school’s Library of Innovation in Birmingham’s North Pratt neighborhood, each episode features a group of students sitting around a table to dig into a topic they consider groundbreaking, controversial, or relevant.

The podcast, Bulldog Talk: On the Edge, is livestreamed on Apple and Spotify. So far, students have interviewed aviation pilots, therapists, counselors, and other professionals.

“My favorite thing about our library is our podcast. It keeps you entertained, and it is fun. You get to learn with other people by just sitting and having a conversation,” said Kimora Jordan, 14, an 8th grader at South Hampton.

The podcast has helped her grow and now “I want to study about apps. I want to know how to make them and coding,” she said.

In partnership with Birmingham City Schools, Ed Farm two years ago introduced the South Hampton Innovation Library, the organization’s first learning space designed through its “Spaces” initiative.

Ed Farm is a tech and education startup nonprofit headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Launched in February 2020 with founding support from Apple and Alabama Power, Ed Farm creates programs designed to engage students, educators and adult learners in innovative digital skills experiences that better prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

The goal of Spaces is to further Ed Farm’s vision to create an inventive world where all people have access to the tools they need to fill or create the jobs of the future and provides cutting-edge Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for students and teachers in Birmingham.

Tambra Clark, librarian specialist at South Hampton, said students came up with not only the title of the podcast — based off their school mascot — but also the content. “They created the flier and the logo. We pull different people from different careers and different seasons of life and the students introduce them. We have a calendar of who they’re going to interview,” said Clark, librarian for the past eight years.

The South Hampton Innovation Library includes learning labs throughout the space that focus on making, tinkering, engineering, and design thinking.

“In 2018 we had conversation about revamping our library. I had about 20,000 books and two Dell computer labs at the time and that was it. We really didn’t have a lot. Just computers and books,” said Clark. “Now, I have 3D printers. I have an Oculus and we have equipment for students to make music with. I have robots, Legos, and drones. They have access to Kindle Nooks as well as our podcast set up.”

Students are immersed in activities that use top-of-the-line technologies, such as the MakerBot 3D printer, Sphero robot kits, littleBits STEM kits, hands-on Osmo coding kits, ThinkLive! DJing Turntable and AR/VR headsets.

Aaliyah Hall, an 8th grader said the program has “opened up possibilities” for her.  “When I get to high school, I want to do dual enrollment so that when I get to college, I can finish faster.  I want to be an orthopedic surgeon and Mrs.  Clark, she helped me realize that.”

The podcast takes the students beyond the classroom, said Clark.

“We have a teacher who owns a farm, and we have her scheduled for next month. We search out and bring these people in and they are open to coming in.  For the students to see Black and brown people doing big things, it’s exposure to then as well as helping them on things like their public speaking and critical thinking skills. These are conversations that they don’t get to have on an everyday basis,” said the teacher.

During Black History Month “one of the things we held was a student showcase,” the instructor said. “Students were assigned either a woman or a man and they created apps on Black people that were pioneers within the technology field.”

In March, during Women’s History Month, students were tasked with creating a virtual reality world or augmented reality artifacts on women who have made a difference.

“So, let’s just say a student was assigned Madam CJ Walker (known as the first female self-made millionaire in America thanks her homemade line of hair care products for Black women). They had to be sure to have a hot comb, a perm, some money, and pictures of her so when they put on the Virtual Reality (VR) headset, that is what they saw,” said Clark.

The program is creating the next generation of engineers, “and they don’t even know it,” said the teacher. “The students love this library. Seeing the excitement, they have while creating and learning fills me with a lot of pride. This is a playground, and the possibilities are endless.”