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Former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor visited campus Saturday afternoon to promote her educational program iCivics, which aims to teach students about U.S. government.
O’Connor’s talk, “Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age,” took place in Campbell Hall and was presented by the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life. O’Connor was the first female justice on the Supreme Court and served as an Associate Justice from her appointment in 1981 until her retirement in 2006.
Three years after leaving the bench, O’Connor founded iCivics to teach American schoolchildren civics using online games and activities. Since its creation in 2009, over three million students have used iCivics to learn about government.
According to first-year political science major Belinda Gaspar, after briefly discussing her law career and rise to the Supreme Court, O’Connor delved into her current involvement with iCivics. Gaspar also said O’Connor emphasized the “challenging and fun” interactive games offered by iCivics raises students test scores and are based on Common Core state standards.
Following O’Connor’s discussion on iCivics, the former justice answered questions from the audience, most of which, according to first-year psychology major Joi Duncan, pertained to her role on the Supreme Court. Duncan also said O’Connor compared her experience on the bench to that of fellow justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice, whom O’Connor said had a different point of view from the other justices because of his race.
Beyond her career on the Supreme Court, O’Connor has continued to try serving the country after leaving the bench, Gaspar said.
“Even after being an inspiration to so many, she is still trying to improve our country by teaching young kids about government,” Gaspar said.
According to Duncan, iCivics effectively teaches students civics in an engaging, enjoyable way and without any political biases.
“It allows them to learn about government without bias from a teacher. iCivics does not include opinions that a teacher might include in her class lessons. Plus, it looks super fun and addicting,” Duncan said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 12, 2014 edition of the Daily Nexus.