ISE Pathways: Repurposing Obsolescence: Teaching DIY Science, Technology and Engineering Practices to Adolescents in Underserved Communities

September 15th, 2012 - August 31st, 2014 | PROJECT

This pathways project will design, develop and test Do-It-Yourself, (DIY), hands-on workshops to introduce and teach middle school females in underserved Latino communities computing and design by customizing and repurposing e-waste media technology, such as old cell phones or appliances -- items found in the students homes or neighborhoods. The major outcome of the project will be the creation of a workshop kit that covers the processes of DIY electronics learning taking place in the workshops for distribution of the curriculum to after school programs and other informal science venues. The PIs have implemented three pilot projects over the last three years that demonstrate the ability of hands-on DIY electronics curricula to motivate and encourage students and to enable them to acquire a deeper understanding of core engineering, mathematics and science concepts. This project would extend the approach to underserved Latino youth, particular girls of middle school age. This audience was identified because of the historically low rate of participation in STEM fields by people in this group and the particular challenges that females have in acquiring knowledge in technical STEM areas. The proposal suggests that the approach of using hands-on workshops that rely on low technical requirements -- essentially obsolete or discarded electronic equipment, primarily from homes of participants -- will encourage the target audience to experiment with items they are familiar with and that are culturally relevant. The hypothesis of the project is that this approach will lower barriers to experimenting with "circuit bending" - the hand-modifying of battery-powered children's toys to build custom electronic instruments and lead to greater participation and success of females in the target group. The project will provide free workshops in two neighborhood locations and be supported by undergraduate student mentors and volunteers and staff of two community groups that are part of the project, Machine Project and Girls, Inc. Participants will demonstrate the finished projects to the workshop group, mentors and parents. Each participant will receive a copy of the workshop handbook in both English and Spanish to take home so that parents, members of the community and caregivers can supervise and participate in future projects.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Toy Hacking: Preliminary Results in Creative Electronic Workshops for Informal Science Education

Team Members

Garnet Hertz, Principal Investigator, University of California-Irvine
Gillian Hayes, Co-Principal Investigator, University of California-Irvine
Rebecca Black, Co-Principal Investigator, University of California-Irvine


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1224131
Funding Amount: 250000


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Low Socioeconomic Status | Women and Girls
Audience: Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Computing and information science | Engineering | General STEM | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Making and Tinkering Programs | Public Programs