Office for University Outreach

El Pueblo Magico

El Pueblo Magico

El Pueblo Mágico is an innovative after-school program where undergraduates and children learn together in a technology-mediated learning club at Alicia Sanchez Elementary School in Lafayette, Colorado. The after-school club at Sanchez promotes K-5 children's appropriation of a range of skills and knowledge with particular emphasis on new media and technological design, scientific knowledge, and specifically, health sciences and energy -- areas of need as identified by the school. El Pueblo Mágico draws on an interdisciplinary team of CU-Boulder faculty and students to bring innovative technologies to the program. In addition to Professor Kris Gutiérrez of the School of Education, program partners include Computer Science Professors Alexander Reppening, Gerhard Fisher, and Michael Eisenberg.

Updates for 2012-2013, including summer 2013:
In academic year 2012-2013 we have introduced new technology and design tools for youth: iRemix social learning network ( and "making and tinkering" projects inspired by programs at the Exploratorium ( With hands on activities such as making circuits with playdoh (squishy circuits), scribbling machines, and sewn circuits with LEDs, children and undergraduates are embarking on inquiries into electricity and design. iRemix provides a platform for youth to write to El Maga, the magical wizard of El Pueblo and to share their project work and thinking with each other. Youth and undergraduates continue to learn how to program their own video games with the AgentSheets program developed by Professor Reppening. With these activities we work to leverage youths' interests in and experiences with social networking, video games, toys, machines and common crafting materials, and extend their repertoires of practice.

Summer 2013! El Pueblo Magico at Casey Middle School and CU Boulder
During Maymester 2013 a team of learning scientists co-taught an adolescent development course that partnered with middle school students at Casey Middle School. The course focused on taking a syncretic approach to collaboratively explore energy as a complex social and scientific problem. A syncretic approach is a pedagogy that leverages both everyday and scientific knowledge to push students toward consequential STEM learning (Gutierrez, 2008, 2010). To explore energy sources and learning theory, undergraduates worked with students at Casey Middle School and at CU Boulder on inquiry-based making and tinkering activities including "produce" batteries made of potatoes and lemons, solar car design projects and "sewn circuits". Activities were co-designed, documented and analyzed with the support of a team of undergraduate researchers in Physics and Education. This collaborative effort was also supported by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grants.

During the school year, the organization of the El Pueblo Magico program promotes rich learning for K-5 children and undergraduate students. Undergraduate students learn robust theories of learning in their coursework, and have opportunities to make deep connections between theory and practice through their participation in El Pueblo Mágico. The K-5 students who participate experience an enriching after-school program where they work closely with college students to develop problem-solving skills, investigate scientific and health-related topics, and gain expertise as designers in cyber environments. El Pueblo Mágico promotes sustained engagement and inquiry through joint work and play, which helps children gain facility with new tools and resources that have academic, personal, and community/home benefits.

This university/community/school partnership is designed to address a range of goals central to building strong relations by: 1) leveraging university, community, and school expertise to help address issues identified by the school/community; 2) improving undergraduate and public school education by situating learning in meaningful learning environments; 3) developing a model of outreach that is both evidence-based and theoretically grounded; and 4) promoting robust notions of learning and culture that challenge deficit model orientations to student learning.

This is a closed program by request only, or for a specific predetermined audience.


In Colorado

  • Lafayette

Program Partners

  • Alicia Sanchez Elementary School, Lafayette, CO
  • Department of Computer Science

Program Contact

Kris Gutierrez


Topics Program Types Audiences
  • Diversity
  • Science
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • Teacher Renewal & Enhancement
  • Technology
  • After School Activity/Instruction
  • At-Risk Youth
  • Children & Youth (outside school)
  • Students - Elementary School
  • Students - ESL


after-school activity, pre-service teacher education, science, STEM, new media, youth, technology, expansive learning, Kris Gutierrez, diversity, School of Education