Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:54 p.m.

    Your video was stimulating and made me want to learn much more about the project and the research findings. Looking forward to reading your report. Does the report give specific examples of the making projects, the processes encountered and the results? The projects looked quite interesting and I liked the statement about students meeting challenges head on in the process. What were some examples of challenges? What are the demographics of your participants? What kinds of learning are the hardest to measure and what tools did you use to capture them? What seem to be the characteristics of the teachers who thrive in this environment? You can see that your video got me engaged!

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:05 a.m.

    Thanks so much for your comments and questions. The report (link below) does give one fairly detailed example of how Making projects support STEM practices, and then references many different kinds of examples. The students in the programs we studied were pretty much equally boys and girls (except in one all-girls program) with a high representation (~80%) coming from low income families. You ask great questions, but not sure they can be answered quickly in this venue! Perhaps a key point to share is that we have found that Making can offer opportunities where students can really take ownership of the problems they are working on. They are driven to become fluent with STEM concepts and practices in order to succeed in what they themselves want to do. Another interesting point is that their aesthetic concerns (what something looks/sounds like) or social goals (how something will be used) often creates new constraints and therefore deeper levels of problem solving (and related patience and persistence) than might otherwise be the case. Please take a look at our report and we’d be thrilled to talk more about it.

    http://researchandpractice.org/resource/stem-ma...

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Creative Producer
    May 20, 2016 | 02:01 p.m.

    Great to have this report. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 03:11 p.m.

    Thank you for your insights. I can see how the intersection of aesthetic concerns and social goals would definitely provoke more authentic and serious problem solving and pursuing the “making” to the end. If the participants include both middle and high school age students, are there big differences in the nature of their projects and their persistence? Just curious. I will definitely take a look at the report.

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 08:24 a.m.

    We haven’t done that analysis per se. Two of the programs we studied had mixed age groups, and in those cases we found that older students, when they were also more experienced with the tools and space, took on more complicated projects (or made simple projects more complicated). They also sometimes took on the role of assisting younger or less experienced students. In short, we haven’t found that age is a limitation in and of itself, but experience with concepts and tools is.

    In sum, Making provides opportunities for more experienced (often older) youth to serve as coaches, deepening their sense of belonging; and, of course, learning through teaching.

    The open-ended nature of productive Making activities (identified by us and others as “the potential for complexification”), where the learner can always make an activity more challenging or complicated, adding additional electronic components, scaling up, or creating more complex behaviors, means that learners can operate at and push beyond their edge of understanding.

    At the Exploratorium, we have seen people of all ages and all backgrounds/training engage in many of these activities.

  • Icon for: Steven Bean

    Steven Bean

    Enterprise Director, Digital NEST, Watsonville CA
    May 16, 2016 | 04:47 p.m.

    I’m interested in two points you made in the video that hit home for us in our work:
    1) You characterize the youths’ projects as “ambitious.” What criteria do these projects have to meet to qualify as “ambitious” and is it the consensus opinion of all the stakeholders in your project that the projects are “ambitious?”
    2) The balance between process and product is SO critical to this work. What do you do to manage this balance, what have been your challenges and have you developed any strategies that would be valuable to other programs in the field?

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 08:37 a.m.

    Hi Steve,
    We used the word ambitious because the girls in the Techbridge program, for example, were supported to pursue truly open-ended projects for which there was no blueprint. The program doesn’t start that way — there are plenty of experiences that are less open-ended where the students can master the use of specific tools or concepts (e.g., circuitry, soldering, etc.). But, as they progress, the projects become more individualized and less structured. So I think the main criteria is that the projects are truly the creation of the girls’ imaginations, and they need to figure out how to achieve their vision, from a to z, with the support of the program educators who assist rather than lead. Examples of ambitious projects in the report include a self-zipping jacket (which zips up or down based on weather temps) or an immersive sound exhibit.

    On process versus product, we have found that it’s critical that the staff are truly prepared to understand that balance and to create a program culture that can support it for students. Perhaps my colleague Jean Ryoo can share some of her observations about how that kind of culture was built at the programs she observed. Bronwyn

  • Icon for: Jean Ryoo

    Jean Ryoo

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:47 p.m.

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much for your questions!
    To build on what Bronwyn shared, many of the Maker Faire projects that Techbridge girls created were recognized by all of us in the partnership (educators and researchers alike) as ambitious. This was not only because they were rooted in girls’ original designs, but also because the girls often took on challenges that even the adults in the room could not immediately solve. This resulted in a really wonderful community of learners in which youth could see the adults as collaborators or supporters in problem solving processes, not just as older experts who would answer all their question or problems. Girls leaned a lot on their peers as well as adults to solve the challenges their designs surfaced.
    In relation to supporting process over product, we saw this a lot in the culture of Techbridge. We wrote a blog and a Fablearn paper about this topic, reflecting on the ways that both educators and youth could reframe current notions of “failure” (a word that is not necessarily used in the program, by the way!) when focusing on the iterative design processes. You can find the blog here: http://corwin-connect.com/2015/04/the-other-f-w.... You can also find our Fablearn paper here: https://www.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/fil....
    What this looked like in the program were girls feeling proud to share non-working prototypes of unfinished projects at Maker Faire or a willingness to discuss with their peers and educators how projects may not always look like one’s original designs.
    Our Network’s educators and researchers also collaborated to create a professional development resource about this topic which we hope can be useful to other programs in the field. This resource identifies the value of supporting iterations and drafts as part of the scientific practices of Tinkering and Making, offers descriptions of the idea from research literature, shows examples of students’ iterative processes in various afterschool programs, and then provides professional development activities that can be done with teachers to support their understanding and experiences teaching with iterations and drafts in mind. You can find that resource here: http://researchandpractice.org/resource/iterati....
    Let us know what you think of these resources. We would love to hear your feedback!

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 05:08 p.m.

    Hi,
    I think this video is posing all the questions that we need to be asking about the power and potential of the maker’s movement happening right now which some have described as a movement in need of theory, but which I would describe as a movement happening in spite of theory. And more power to it! because of that!

    I once taught a class called the Evolution of Education – that looked at the overarching goals of the educational institutions dominant in western societies starting with Plato and running through the Age of the Enlightenment and on through Post-Industrial ideas about democracy like those advanced by John Dewey. What was so interesting about teaching this course was that it really spotlighted the underlying social architecture and assumptions that drive the values we prioritize for our educational systems.

    what is the purpose of education? Individualism? Individual enlightenment? A strong republic? Democracy? Scientific advancement?

    So when you ask: “But are they learning….” the answer is yes of course they are… as humans we are learning organisms. We can’t help but keep learning so the real question is" We are learning: But to what end?

    From my perspective. All the current questions that are cropping up around the maker’s movement really bring this issue of ’purpose of learning" back into the spotlight. Or as (Vygotskian) Cultural Historical Activity Theorists would put it : What is the organizing object of the activity?

    It could be: removing fears or feelings of incompetency about working with technology

    It could be: mastering employable technology skills

    It could be: keeping homeless kids off the street and making them feel like they belong somewhere

    It could be: advancing the electric car industry by solving challenges associated with energy storage.

    Or it could be multiples of these.

    In the end my point is that while I agree we need to keep asking questions about the difference between playing and learning that only works when you are clear that there is a subtext to the word learning that refers back to all these questions around learning as serving a purpose.

    It is the difference between asking questions about ontology vs. axiology.

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 08:36 a.m.

    Yes I completely agree with you. And I think our title was meant as a provocation to elicit exactly these kinds of points.
    But also: There are real questions, coming mostly through a more instrumental lens on learning, about “what is being learned?” Educators want and need to articulate the powerful learning and development that Making can support, as well as how it connects to mandated curricula. I see potential in this tension for broadening, and developing an evidence base for, common cultural models of “what learning looks like.”

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Creative Producer
    May 20, 2016 | 02:05 p.m.

    I totally agree. When I came to the NY Hall of Science from a fairly traditional natural history museum, I had quite a learning curve around how exhibits work here and what are goals and expectations were. Making was really hard for me because I couldn’t understand how to assess what was being learned. I think the posed questions are great and the tie ins to STEM.

  • Icon for: Barbara Rogoff

    Barbara Rogoff

    UCSC Foundation Professor of Psychology
    May 16, 2016 | 05:40 p.m.

    It’s great to see how your project combines principles of informal learning in the tinkering setting! Barbara Rogoff

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 08:36 a.m.

    Thanks Barbara. We have just started a follow up study that looks at how learning that occurs in an afterschool Tinkering program flows into, and can be recognized and leveraged during the school day. Bronwyn

  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:39 a.m.

    Wonderful video with alongside some insightful “best practices”. Did you do any study of in-school tinkering programs?

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:06 a.m.

    No, we haven’t yet, although our colleagues at the Exploratorium Tinkering Studio lead PD workshops (including a Coursera MOOC) designed for classroom teachers who are integrating tinkering into the school day.

  • Icon for: Jim Boyd

    Jim Boyd

    Technology Director
    May 17, 2016 | 05:36 p.m.

    Thank you for highlighting the importance of leveraging “Making” in the learning process. If students are able to step through the actual process of creating a device, they usually walk away with a much greater understanding of the principles behind the product they created. Nice video!
    The act of “making” is often a critical step in self identification for many young people. They are more likely to see themselves as a technical person.

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 08:39 a.m.

    Yes, and they also come to see themselves as creative thinkers and good problem-solvers.

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    Jewel Barlow

    Guest
    May 17, 2016 | 10:09 p.m.

    I love the program because it shows a lot of learning by trial and error as well as allowing for organizing thoughts to align with observed outcomes. Or perhaps trying to analyze in advance and then see if the product based on the analysis actually performs as expected. But I really don’t like to see a highlighted statement “process over product”. AS an aerospace engineer, my belief is that product in terms of it safety and performance is the ultimate outcome. How it comes about is of definite secondary consideration. I think the use of “process over product” may be used in the context of the educational enterprise of taking a wider range of raw materials, the learners from a wide range of backgrounds, and seeking many options to assist them in learning to do engineering work at the highest possible level. This effort is enhanced by exploring ways that are somewhat different from the methods of earlier times such as when I was in school and college. But I see great danger in using the phrase “process over product” with regard to people working on designs and production of things that involve life and death, like automobiles, airplanes, bridges, medicines, etc.

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 08:34 a.m.

    Thanks for raising this important point. One of the key features of afterschool is that it is a “low-stakes” setting where young people can stretch themselves, to learn and try new things. Hand-in-hand with trying new things, or taking intellectual or creative risks, is the reality that sometimes things don’t work as you expected — because your expectations aren’t quite right, because you are still learning. As you know, there’s no expert out there that got to expertise without learning from moments when their understanding was challenged.

    STEM is so often presented as “facts to be memorized” and when it is presented as “STEM practices” during the school-day, there often isn’t the time for students to be wrong (without high stakes consequences). There’s reason to believe that these conditions may discourage young people, who haven’t grown up identifying with STEM, to dive in and learn by doing.

    As an engineer, you (like the NRC K12 Framework) probably call what we are talking about “the iterative design process” — as things don’t work, you revise and rework based on data and feedback. In our network, we have emphasized “the process” in the iterative design process because we see such powerful learning and development happening during the process of making, and we don’t want it to be shortchanged. Particularly for educators without formal STEM backgrounds, there is a danger that getting the product “right” and “done” can take precedence over allowing youth to struggle through their questions and come to their own (and therefore owned) understanding. Or in the context of Making, that educators might adopt a step-by-step building approach in which nothing really can go wrong. Everybody gets the same thing right and done at the same time; and so learning is somewhat limited. (We think by the way that there is a place for such step-by-step activities, but as stepping stones for more ambitious, creative, and open-ended work.) This emphasis sets the stage for helping educators understand how they can assist students to be successful without limiting or taking over their ambitions or projects.

    We have two examples where students were still exploring phenomena related to their very complex (ambitious) product, when “time ran out” before the Maker Faire. Rather than not coming to the Maker Faire, or being assigned as helpers to others who had finished their projects, the girls were positioned front and center to share their working prototypes and discuss their plans, process, and how they had responded to the data/feedback they were collecting along the way (and what their next steps would be when they returned to work on them some more).

    I hope that helps. The phrase “process over product” is most definitely not about lax standards. It’s really about honoring learning, supporting the development of youth resilience through productive struggle, and spotlighting the special role that Making in afterschool can play towards developing young people’s STEM interests, understanding and commitments.

    My colleagues Linda Kekelis and Jean Ryoo wrote a blog about this here: http://corwin-connect.com/2015/04/the-other-f-w...
    Our Collaboratory colleagues in Seattle produced this Practice Brief on “Failing Forward” http://stemteachingtools.org/brief/36

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    Jewel Barlow

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:47 a.m.

    Thank you Bronwyn Bevan for your response and for the links which give some related context. I am uncomfortable with terms like “failing forward” etc as I am with “process over product”. These phrases introduce the necessity for explanations which could be avoided entirely with different choices of explication of the efforts to engage the broadest cross section of learners in ways that excite their creativity and do not extinguish their interests. I repeat my first statement earlier that I love the program’s approach, just have some reservations about some of these statements. I want to note something that may be obvious which is that most engineering design efforts are addressing how to improve devices that already meet many functions. A relatively small fraction of the population of engineers actually spend their time “inventing” new devices. Exploration of “why” and “how” for existing devices as well as “making” new devices might be useful elements of these programs.

  • Icon for: Brett Slezak

    Brett Slezak

    Health and Physical Education Teacher
    May 18, 2016 | 01:18 p.m.

    I appreciate the focus this program is placing on equity in making. While I think the video poses a lot of really important questions about moving making for exploring to making for learning, there is always a much larger question about access and equity that we often bypass in education. What is beautiful about the maker-movement is that it encourages anyone and everyone to be a maker. But if it turns out that only the school districts that have access to the proper resources are doing this, we lose a large portion of the students who need it the most. I am glad your project is taking steps to thoughtfully address the issue of equity in maker-programs.

  • Icon for: Jean Ryoo

    Jean Ryoo

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:13 a.m.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, we are passionate about addressing issues of equity related to Making and I am glad to know you are too! I agree that the Maker Movement offers amazing possibilities for youth to harness their creativity and curiosity toward new learning experiences. More specifically, I love how Making is rooted in ancient human and cultural practices and can potentially celebrate the perspectives, experiences, ways of knowing, and diverse skills that children bring to the table. On the flip side, as you note, there are challenges to equity-oriented Making when it becomes a privilege that only the wealthiest schools and programs can have. Furthermore, even when a Maker Space is created with the goal of inviting youth from low-income communities or more diverse perspectives into the space, there are many youth and community members who may feel like they don’t belong or cannot belong because they don’t see themselves as “Makers” in the ways that Making has been branded by the larger movement. I think it is our responsibility to highlight the creativity, problem solving, various ways of understanding the world, etc. that allow all people to be “Makers” in their own ways, and to provide the opportunities to have all people experience their own ways of knowing and being as assets and not deficits to STEM-rich Making and Tinkering. Programs like Techbridge, Community Science Workshop, and the Exploratorium’s Tinkering programs with the San Francisco Boys and Girls Club and Lighthouse Community Charter School are trying to make that happen so that (as you note) Making is not a privilege relegated to youth in only the wealthiest schools. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 04:15 p.m.

    Couple of additional questions for the developers and researchers: Could you say a bit more about students as mentors and how that works? Do most of the students identify and work on their own projects or do teams get set up (or naturally occur) to dream up projects and work on them together? Is the research yielding any information about the timing of feedback…that is, how long do you let students struggle with their projects before raising questions that could provoke their thinking when they are stuck or help them identify options or alternatives routes to pursue?

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    Emily McLeod

    Guest
    May 18, 2016 | 08:43 p.m.

    Hi, Vivian,

    Great questions! At Techbridge, we approach mentorship in a few different ways. Teams of girls in our high school Making programs work with mentors who support them as they work on their long term projects. These mentors may be students from local colleges and universities pursuing STEM degrees, or they may be STEM professionals.

    In addition, students are able to take on roles as mentors in a couple of different ways: As they work on their projects, over time girls naturally develop expertise in skills and content as they learn what they need to do to achieve their visions (for example, one group of girls may become expert in programming Arduinos to control LEDs, or in creating circuits with servos). Frequently, other teams will be working similar problems, but may be further along in the process, or just starting out, since their work is self-directed. Techbridge facilitators encourage girls who are experts in a topic to support other teams that need to develop similar skills; girls will also naturally take on this role themselves.

    We are also working on more formal ways to develop youth mentoring and leadership; for example, this summer a group of high school girls will take on mentor roles during our Summer Academy for middle school girls, supporting them as they engage in robotics activities. We are also planning in our high school Maker programs to recruit a cohort of experienced girls to act as leaders next school year, supporting new students who join the program.

    In terms of project selection and team design, girls work in groups of two to four, and at the beginning of their Maker project work, they present the ideas that they are interested in pursuing to the whole group. Girls then self-select into teams based on mutual interest and remain in those teams for several months developing their projects.

    As to the timing of facilitator intervention if girls are struggling, it’s a delicate balance, and is very informed by facilitators’ knowledge of and relationships with the girls in question. In general, we try to give girls time to work on problems themselves, because they often can and will figure out the solutions themselves (and we don’t want to short-circuit that process); we also want to give them some experience with working through frustration and develop perseverance. However, if girls are struggling with a problem that they may not have enough information to solve on their own (and aren’t able to find themselves), if they seem like they may be so frustrated that they are shutting down, or if they ask for help, facilitators will step in, not to offer them a “right answer”, but (as you suggest) to ask questions, suggest different pathways, or share new information. We also always acknowledge that we are co-learners and may not ourselves have all of the solutions, and will often work with girls to learn something together.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 11:14 a.m.

    Really appreciate the way the program is approaching mentoring and “guiding.” Good to hear from you!

  • May 18, 2016 | 07:07 p.m.

    Great video! A lot of complex ideas very nicely laid out in 3 minutes — no easy task. I am also coming back to that process over product idea. At the Digital Youth Network in Chicago we are running a program for middle school girls, engaged in designing and making fabrication projects with circuits and LED lights (similar to some of the projects in this video!). As the girls are using online resources, and have help in the f2f from mentors, there is a component of finishing and moving on to the next project that sometimes is challenging for mentors and girls alike. How much to let them struggle, and how to convey that sometimes it is OK to move on to another new project or idea without finalizing or perfecting the last thing you worked on. There is a tension between iteration and perfection, and quick prototyping and moving on that sometimes can be a puzzle. How to engage in the process deeply and reflectively, but ensure that people feel good about what they have produced when there are times to showcase and share work.

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    Emily McLeod

    Guest
    May 18, 2016 | 09:50 p.m.

    Hi, Caitlin,

    Good question! This is also very much a challenge that we face at Techbridge—particularly with our high school Maker project, both because we have a firm end date (girls present their projects at the San Mateo Maker Faire), and because it’s such a public presentation—but with our shorter-term projects as well.

    I certainly don’t feel like we have all of the answers, but one of the ways we approach the issue is to be explicit with girls about our goals and values. We tell girls that their most important takeaways from their work may not be a perfected end product, but the ideas, skills and knowledge, and perseverance that they have developed along the way.

    We also highlight the iterative nature of the design process, and talk with girls about the fact that engineers and scientists don’t expect to create a perfect design on their first (or second or third) try. We acknowledge that setbacks are part of the process and one of the ways that you learn, while at the same time not labeling these setbacks as failures, but part of the process of iteration. We also model what this process looks like through experiences shared by role models and by facilitators, who may bring in non-working projects and talk about the challenges that they are working through. The blog and Fablearn paper that Jean links to above both have more information about how we approach the ideas of failure and iteration.

    All of that said, there is no getting around the fact that at the end of the day, there are going to be some projects that don’t work in the way that the teams or individuals wanted them to, or that don’t work at all, and sometimes we need to move on due to time constraints. In the best case scenario, girls may be disappointed, but still feel proud of what they did accomplish, and may even be able to share their learning experiences with a wider audience as in the examples Bronwyn shared above from Maker Faire. In a less ideal outcome, girls may feel frustrated or disengage. We do our best to mitigate these kinds of outcomes through facilitator support and modeling, and by trying to intersperse challenging projects with more scaffolded/shorter ones.

    I’d love to hear more about strategies that you’ve used to tackle this issue in your program!

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 11:18 a.m.

    It would be great to get some of the participants to talk about their experience with iteration, risk taking, challenges, and what it means to them over the course of the effort. Are there plans to capture some “in your own words” stories from the participants as they move through the Making?

  • Icon for: Jean Ryoo

    Jean Ryoo

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 03:10 p.m.

    This is a great idea, Vivian! We have been trying to capture some of these stories from a youth perspective and hope to share them with you all soon. In the meantime, you can check out a short paper that we presented at Fablearn last year that includes some quotes from the girls describing the ways they understood iteration, working through challenges, and tinkering. You can download that paper here: https://www.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/fil.... Would love to know what you think! Thanks for your posts!

  • Icon for: Veronica Cassone McGowan

    Veronica Cassone McGowan

    May 19, 2016 | 02:40 p.m.

    I appreciated this works lens on creating equitable “making” environments for students by connecting learning across settings and creating multiple entry points for students. It was helpful to see your overview of the features of productive after school making programs, and suggestions for related professional development. I hope to read more about this work!

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    Monica MD

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:18 p.m.

    Hi, I enjoyed the video. I passed the age of rearing the kids, in other words, I am a grandma & professional, the video helps me to understand the current challenging changing environment of field of education. I do hope this project helps and stimulates the folks such as teachers, teaching administrators, parents policy makers and the nation, world to make a better cosmos we live in, our kids will live in.

    Thank you for the idea, effort of collaboration of such idea and sending the video to the general population!

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Digital Learning & UCAR Connect Lead
    May 20, 2016 | 03:23 a.m.

    Hi Bronwyn (and colleagues). No surprise seeing your top rate work here. It’s an exciting time for informal education to be sure in no small part due to the convergence of sensors, the cloud/IoT, 3D printing and so much more that is making Maker spaces places of creativity and innovation like never before! Thanks for your work with making, tinkering, STEAM, play…. And just so you know, so many of my CILS relationships are still going strong. Thanks for that too! YOU all MAKE a DIFFERENCE! Kudos!

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 02:01 p.m.

    Hi Teri. I agree with your comment about technologies. I think that is at the heart of why Making, as in the maker movement, has become such a phenomenon. Affordable, small techno tools — and also some push-back on the last 2 decades of narrow conceptions of what teaching and learning look like. B.

  • Icon for: Leslie Herrenkohl

    Leslie Herrenkohl

    Professor, Co_Director 3dL Partnership
    May 20, 2016 | 11:10 a.m.

    This is fantastic work from an amazing group of educators! Thanks Bronwyn and team for a great video that manages to tell quite a complex story in just 3 minutes. Like you and some of the commenters above, we recognize the need to address issues of equity in making in ways that can help all youth have access to important opportunities to learn. We love that you’ve formed a network in CA to support this. How is this network structured and how does it function? Do you have regular times when you are face-to-face or is most of the collaborative work done remotely? Do you have tools that help you with activity documentation and facilitation?

  • Icon for: Jean Ryoo

    Jean Ryoo

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 03:45 p.m.

    Hi Leslie! Thanks so much for taking the time to watch our video and post to the discussion.
    To answer your questions:
    Currently our Network is in a quieter phase due to changes in personnel and funding. However, several of us across the Network are still meeting regularly to continue creating professional development resources and write blogs or articles together (which I will describe in greater detail below). Anyway, during the research phase (over approximately 2 years), we met as an entire group on a conference call once a month to discuss ideas, project data, readings, happenings/events occurring in each partner location, etc. These monthly calls served as a way to maintain a shared vision for the project and answer questions about our goals and work as they came up.
    Alongside the monthly meetings, individual researchers on the team who were conducting ethnographic observations at the different program sites (Molly Shea, Nicole Bulalacao, and I) also met regularly with educators and program leaders. In this way, beyond the face-to-face time we spent during program visits (with researchers observing afterschool and professional development activities), we would also meet to look at and analyze data together (video footage, fieldnotes, etc.). In some cases (such as at the Environmental Science Workshop in Watsonville), this joint analysis of data served as a simultaneous professional development for the afterschool educators. And in other cases, such as at Techbridge, the experience became extra “meta” in regards to weaving together research and practice and meeting online and in-person to discuss ideas: Last summer, Techbridge staff and I took the Tinkering Fundamentals Coursera together (taught by Karen Wilkinson, Mike Petrich, and Luigi Anzivino of the Exploratorium Tinkering Studio). We all took the online course individually, then met in-person to Make/Tinker and discuss the activities (while Techbridge staff from Seattle and DC joined virtually), then shared ideas on a Google doc online, and all the while I also wrote fieldnotes and collected videos/photos to document our experience together.
    Regarding tools for activity documentation, we’re always looking for new and interesting ways to document beyond our current video and fieldnote-based ethnographic methods. So if you have any cool tools to share for activity documentation, please do.
    For activity facilitation, our Network has developed some professional development resources that we hope are useful for informal Making educators. You can find the resources at: http://www.exploratorium.edu/education/californ.... Some are short briefs of research articles with guiding questions that can be used to support discussions in professional developments with educators around things such as equity, Tinkering/Making, and research-practice partnerships. Another type of resource we have (currently available at: http://researchandpractice.org/resource/iterati...) is a professional development guide for thinking about “iterations and drafts” in Making and Tinkering. Would love to know what you think if you have a chance to check these resources out! Thanks!

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 23, 2016 | 03:06 p.m.

    Jean – I have been using Sound Cloud – a freeware recording platform in the cloud – to collect weekly audio diary entries.

    check it out: https://soundcloud.com/

  • Small default profile

    greg giannis

    Guest
    May 21, 2016 | 01:31 p.m.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in this field. an incredubly valuable resource. I’m interested to know what process you use to help the students with their initial project ideas?

  • Icon for: Bronwyn Bevan

    Bronwyn Bevan

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 08:12 a.m.

    It will depend on the context, but three strategies that we have seen a lot are (1) intentionally seeding the physical environment with similar or related projects completed by others (students, facilitators, or guest makers) — this includes displaying unfinished work; (2) leading short group discussions and/or demos about the day’s project, where students share prior related experiences, questions, or thoughts about the phenomena or tools; and (3) having facilitators working on their own projects side-by-side with the students. The Exploratorium Tinkering Studio has a large monitor that runs a video loop of work by artists and others that take the core phenomena being investigated that day to a whole new level of creativity or whimsy. These larger-scale or elaborated models can inspire out-of-the-box thinking.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Bronwyn Bevan
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Research + Practice Collaboratory
  4. http://researchandpractice.org/actions/california
  5. University of Washington
  1. Michelle Choi
  2. Project Director
  3. Research + Practice Collaboratory
  4. http://researchandpractice.org/actions/california
  5. Exploratorium
  1. Jean Ryoo
  2. Senior Researcher
  3. Research + Practice Collaboratory
  4. http://researchandpractice.org/actions/california
  5. Exploratorium
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Making Is Fun but Are They Learning?: Equity in Science Education
DUE-1238253

There is growing interest in Making as a new approach to STEM learning. Students and teachers alike are excited about it. The White House is excited about it. Many federal agencies, including NSF, are exploring Making as an inclusive approach to engaging learners in STEM practices of designing, engineering, testing, and creative, improvisational problem-solving.

Making looks and feels like fun. But what are young people learning? And how do educators make Making a rich and inclusive process for all?

This video shares findings from a research-practice partnership, called the California Tinkering Afterschool Network, that brought together STEM researchers and afterschool Maker educators to co-investigate how Making activities could support more equitable approaches to STEM learning, and what kinds of professional learning educators needed to make Making productive and equitable for all learners. Read more about the research project and our findings in our attached report.

This partnership is part of the Research + Practice Collaboratory (researchandpractice.org), funded by NSF Award #DUE-1238253.