The unveiling of a Diversity Mural at Bear Tavern Elementary School last spring marked the culmination of a yearlong collaboration between the school’s teachers and two TCNJ faculty members to educate children in grades pre-K–5 about different ethnicities, cultural traditions, and religious celebrations.
Assistant Professor of Interactive Multimedia John Kuiphoff ’04 and Associate Professor of Music Teresa Nakra pioneered an innovative, hands-on approach to cultural diversity education that combined traditional classroom instruction, music lessons, and ZooBurst, an award-winning digital storytelling tool that allows users to create digital 3D pop-up books that can be viewed online or on an iPad. Kuiphoff co-developed ZooBurst with fellow TCNJ alumnus Craig Kapp ’99, MS ’03.
Kuiphoff worked with Bear Tavern fifth-graders to create ZooBurst 3D books about the different cultures they researched. Meanwhile, Nakra taught students in each grade songs that are representative of every continent then recorded the students performing them. The books and recordings were uploaded to four iPads, which were incorporated into the Diversity Mural that Kuiphoff and students from TCNJ and Bear Tavern created in the Hopewell school’s lobby. The ceramic tile mosaic was unveiled as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebration in May.
Kuiphoff said he hopes future efforts tied to the Bear Tavern Cultural Diversity Project can be incorporated into the College’s Community Engaged Learning Program. Through that program, students take part in hands-on, service-oriented projects that address the issues facing the local community, such as hunger, homelessness, educational reform, and environmental awareness.
“I want our [IMM] students to not only make an impression, but also make an impact,” Kuiphoff said. “Interactive multimedia is not simply about designing a new video game. It’s about innovation, problem solving, and building upon the technological skills and knowledge learned to address current community issues.”