Capturing the Culture of Making: FabLearn Fellow blog posts

The 2014/2015 FabLearn Fellows cohort is a diverse group of 18 educators and makers. They represent eight states and five countries, and work with a wide range of ages at schools, museums, universities and non-profits. Throughout the course of the year, they will develop curriculum and resources, as well as contribute to current research projects. Their blogs represent their diverse experience and interests in creating better educational oportunities for all. 

I’ve been privileged to mentor this group this past year and part of that is summarizing their amazing blog posts. Here are some recent highlights from March 2015.

What can these scraps reveal? by Erin Riley
“Process can be informed by what is available and as a result unfolds in different ways.” Erin explores how creativity and constraints work together as students use upcycled and recycled materials in projects.
STEAM, STEM, and Making by Tracy Rudzitis
Can the momentum of excitement about making, the new push for STEM education, and the acknowledgment that arts should play a role in STEM subjects be captured into real school change? Or will the enthusiasm, as Tracy asks, simply be redirected into minor tweaks to the status quo, lectures, and tests, because teachers and administrators simply believe that is the only way to teach. The key, Tracy says, is to understand the rich pedagogical history in which these new practices are situated.
Make your silicone protector for soldering irons by Gilson Domingues and Pietro Domingues
Soldering is the best way to connect electrical components, yet the iron is very hot and poses a danger, especially to children who have smaller hands and have trouble holding the iron so far away from the working tip. This do-it-yourself soldering iron protector is both fun and useful!
Teaching rights by Erin Riley 
Erin shares her version of a punchcard system that designates students who are trained users and teachers for various equipment. “When students teach they: solidify their own learning, share their knowledge with peers, and gain confidence.  When the teaching pool widens to include students, the heirarchy breaks down and our makerspaces become a place for students, including us.”
From Name Tags to Lasting Artifacts; Fostering a Culture of Deep Projects by Christa Flores
Christa asks, “…are schools that are pushing design into their programs allowing students to know more than the terms of design (brainstorm, iterate and empathy) or are they truly teaching the value, and intricacy of the design process?” To answer this, she offers examples of deep learning through design and the complex mix of culture, leadership, and support for the process that is needed for success.

Plus – Useful research on museum/ out of school programs

Research to Practice: Observing Learning in Tinkering Activities (Museum)
 – The Exploratorium Museum shares a useful framework for researchers, practitioners, funders, and policy-makers seek to understand what constitutes learning-through-tinkering, particularly in a museum setting. Supported by video case studies of the tinkering activities in the Tinkering Studio, they developed four Dimensions of Learning and three broad Facilitation Moves. In addition, they created a Tinkering Library of Exemplars that categorizes over one hundred video clips according to these frameworks.

Museum-managed STEM Programs – What evidence is there for the impact of museum (and other designed setting) managed programs on STEM learning and interest? What is known about the impact and value of such programs on school-age children’s understanding of STEM concepts and practices as well as their interest and engagement in STEM? By Bernadette Chi, Rena Dorph & Leah Reisman, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley

  Evidence & Impact: Museum-Managed STEM Programs in Out-of- School Settings (PDF)

Compiled by Sylvia Martinez, FabLearn Fellow Mentor

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