Making, Tinkering and Informal STEM Education

June 12th, 2015

The White House is celebrating a “Week of Making” from June 12th-18th, launching this weekend with the inaugural National Maker Faire. Making and tinkering activities are an active process of building, designing, and innovating with tools and materials to produce shareable artifacts. The collection features many resources for informal STEM professionals developing, evaluating and researching Making and Tinkering Programs. Here are some highlights from our repository:

Maker Corps

As stated on their website, Maker Corps “increases the capacity of youth-serving organizations nationwide to engage youth and families in making”. This project investigates the impact of Maker Ed across three Maker Corps programs at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the REM Learning Center in Miami, and the Millvale Community Library in Millvale, PA through surveys and case studies asking these two questions: How does Maker Corps impact the Maker Corps Members, participating Host Sites, and the audiences they serve? In what ways can the Maker Corps program improve to better serve these participants and their audiences? Case studies and evaluation reports are available on the Maker Corps project page.

Learning Labs In Museums and Libraries

Jointly funded by the IMLS and MacArthur Foundation, the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project supported twenty four U.S. sites in the planning and design of spaces for youth to pursue informal learning activities using digital and traditional media. The publication, Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Transformative Spaces for Teens, details the research and practice involved in these spaces. See also our 2013 Spotlight by Co-Principal Investigator, Margaret Glass.

Making As Learning

Researcher Breanne Litts sought to answer the question: how is learning demonstrated in makerspaces? Her dissertation explores the defining characteristics of makerspaces through a comparative case study and a design experiment, discussing “the implications for practitioners and designers of informal learning environments, the emerging field of making in education, and learning scientists more broadly”.

Making as a Learning Process & The Learning Practices of Making

Lisa Brahms’ dissertation, Making as a Learning Process, responds to the demand from educators and policymakers for definitions, measures, and guidelines of design that capture the qualities of making as a learning process by mapping maker practices and perspectives to foundational theories of the learning sciences. The report, The Learning Practices of Making, co-authored by Brahms and Peter Wardrip, identifies observable and reportable evidence of learner’s engagement in making as a learning process through theories of cultural and social learning. See also Jamie Bell’s Update From the Field, Defining Making: It’s a Pickle (Or Not).

Making and Tinkering Programs Evidence Wiki Article

As part of CAISE’s ongoing work to source community expertise for the growing knowledge base on nascent, established and burgeoning topics of interest and ways of working in ISE, this article contains input from a group of contributors who are designing, evaluating and researching a variety of making and tinkering experiences and settings. We invite you to contribute your own knowledge with related citations here.