FUSE Studios: An Alternative Infrastructure for STEM Learning and Interest Development

October 1st, 2013 - October 1st, 2013 | PROJECT

FUSE is a new kind of interest-driven learning experience being developed by researchers at Northwestern University with the goal of engaging pre-teens and teens in science, technology, engineering, arts/design, and mathematics (STEAM) topics while fostering the development of important 21st century skills including adaptive problem solving, creativity, self-directed learning, persistence, and grit. FUSE is now offered in-school, after-school, and on the weekends at 23 different locations in the greater Chicago area. Through FUSE, teens can "hang out, mess around and geek out" with the FUSE set of challenges, the core activities in our Studios. Each challenge uses a leveling up model from gaming and is carefully designed to engage teens in different STEAM topics and skills sets. FUSE currently has 21 challenges in areas such as robotics, electronics, biotechnology, graphic design, Android app development, 3D printing and more. New challenges are always in development. FUSE Challenges can be tackled individually or in groups. Professional scientists, engineers, advanced undergraduates, and graduate students are available as mentors and provide a real-world connection to the concepts learned and practiced through the challenges. All challenges result in digital media artifacts that are shared online for peer review, remixing, expert judging, and collaboration. We designed the FUSE program to appeal to the interests of all young people, especially those youth who are not interested in or don't think of themselves as "good at" math and science in school. FUSE challenges provide a new way to explore science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math in a fun and relaxed way. FUSE is based on many years of research in the learning sciences by faculty in School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.

Project Website(s)

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Project Products

Spotlight: Fuse

Team Members

Northwestern University, Contributor
Maggie Waldron, Project Manager, Northwestern University
Reed Stevens, Principal Investigator, Northwestern University
Kemi Jona, Co-Principal Investigator, Northwestern University


Funding Source: NSF
Award Number: 1348800
Funding Amount: 1499474


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Computing and information science | Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Library Programs | Public Programs