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2Gen Labs

Target Audience: New immigrant families and their young children (PreK-2)
Subjects/Skills: Science, Engineering, Literacy, Civics

In the U.S., there are almost 12 million school-age immigrant children (Migration Policy Institute, 2019). Immigrants are the fastest growing children’s demographic group and are projected to make up over a third of U.S. children by 2050 (Roubeni, 2018). Studies show that young children from immigrant families begin kindergarten already academically behind their peers from non-immigrant families.These disparities persist and sometimes widen throughout a child’s school trajectory.

We believe the key to breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty is intergenerational learning. To that end, GBH Education developed 2GEN LABS, a research and development initiative dedicated to exploring the potential of innovative technologies to promote learning among immigrant families with young children. 2GEN LABS is committed to a participatory research and design approach, which ensures that the input and expertise of families and educators from marginalized communities informs the media we produce.

Currently, 2GEN LABS is exploring how interactive graphic novels can promote science learning (science concepts, practices, and vocabulary) among immigrant parents enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes and their young children in grades K-2. The 2GEN Family Science Kits feature a fun interactive graphic novel that follows the fictional Pérez family as they celebrate their first year in the US with a trip to the beach. The family of four explores tidepools and learns about the animals that make them their habitat. This beautifully illustrated story uses QR codes that link to short-form videos and audiograms designed to deepen readers’ engagement in the science content. As the Pérez family explores the tidepool, they investigate the differences and similarities between the Massachusetts coast and their native Yucatán Peninsula. The resources also include an adult ESOL educator guide with lesson plans designed to guide educators in using multimedia tools for teaching and learning.

Working with writers, illustrators, adult and family educators, and immigrant families, education staff at GBH and NEPM developed a suite of resources that showcase the 2GEN Family Science Kits.

The Interactive Graphic Novel is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the 2Gen ESOL educator guide is aligned with the 21st Century Skills, and the Career Readiness (CTE) Standards.


More than 4,000 2GEN Family Science Kits have been distributed to intergenerational learning programs in schools and libraries, dual language programs, and community-based organizations working with immigrant families throughout Massachusetts. Focus groups with adult ESOL students and educators confirmed the importance of representation in media, with a majority of families saying that they saw themselves in the characters. A majority of families read the Interactive Graphic Novel multiple times and enjoyed the multimedia content delivered via QR, though most would like to see more complex interactive features. Families enjoyed the activities, especially the storytelling activities that allowed them to create their own paper avatars and use the story setting placemats to tell their own science stories.

Contact Us: education@wgbh.org.