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Teens weigh in on future of American political system

When high school senior Devon Wood sits down at the dinner table with her parents they catch up on what’s happening at school or at the farm. But as of late, midterm elections — and politics in general — have dominated their evening conversations.

“My dad is a farmer and a Republican, and my mom is a teacher and a Democrat, so it’s made for interesting conversations at home,” Devon said.

And her interest in American politics doesn’t stop there.

The Shenandoah High School student is producing a news story about female politicians in the Hawkeye State, which includes interviews with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Staci Appel, who is running for Congress. She has decided to pursue a degree in political science, has shadowed Sen. Joni Ernst and proudly admits that she’d like to run for office one day.

“I want to be in politics because I want to help the most people that I can, and public policy is a great way to do that,” she said.

Graphic produced by Allison McCartney for the PBS NewsHour

Graphic produced by Allison McCartney for the PBS NewsHour

Devon admits she feels optimistic about the political system and is in no rush to label herself as a Republican or Democrat.

So how does Devon’s attitude toward politics compare to her peers around the country?

In October, we sent an anonymous online questionnaire to 80 schools in the Student Reporting Labs network, which trains middle and high school students in video journalism. Here’s what they had to say.

One of the more surprising survey results is that 66 percent of students were against lowering the voting age to 16.

Here is what 17-year-old Caroline Pribble , a junior at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Utah, and Evan Gulock, 17, a senior at Royal Oak High School in Michigan had to say:

We shared the survey data with our students and asked them to create their own infographics.

Produced by Taylor Clark at New Tech High @ Coppell in Coppell, Texas.

Produced by Alyssa Phillips, a student at Black River Falls High School in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

Produced by Karren Saldi at the CPBN Media Lab at Connecticut Public Broadcasting in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Student Reporting Labs program is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the American Graduate initiative.

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