Hopeful or pessimistic? Teens weigh in on the future of the 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 Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Staci Appel, who is running for Congress. She has decided to pursue a degree in political science, has job shadowed Senator Joni Ernst and proudly admits that she’d like to run for office one day.
Devon Wood and her classmates from Shenandoah High School interview Lieutenant Governor 
Kim Reynolds.
“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.
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 towards 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.

Graphic produced by Allison McCartney for the PBS NewsHour One of the more surprising facts that came out of the survey is that 66 percent of students were against lowering the voting age to 16. Here is what 17-year-old Caroline Holyoak, 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:


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

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

Youth & Politics Infographic by @NewTechCoppell ‘s @TaylorClark___ for #MidtermElections @reportinglabs #boydbence pic.twitter.com/XvILbwyTMj

— Janelle Q. Bence (@Janelle) November 3, 2014
Produced by Taylor Clark at New Tech High @ Coppell in Coppell, Texas.

Alley, a BRFHS @reportinglabs staffer, worked with some #MidtermElections data from SRL labs. Interesting results! pic.twitter.com/YBM6xSWkBq

— Black River Falls HS (@BRFHighSchool) November 3, 2014
Produced by Alyssa Phillips, a student at Black River Falls High School in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

Are young people in tuned with politics? Check out this infographic to learn more @reportinglabs @PBS pic.twitter.com/0m088jxRsZ

— CPBN Media Lab (@CPBNMediaLab) November 4, 2014
Produced by Karren Saldi at the CPBN Media Lab at Connecticut Public Broadcasting in Hartford, Connecticut.