PIs: R. Benjamin Shapiro, Brian Gravel, Chris Rogers
This exploratory project will research how teachers learn to adapt open-ended, self-directed, and fabrication-rich maker space pedagogy and technology to school settings in ways that are responsive to the needs and interests of the students, their families, and the surrounding community. Maker culture is a do-it-yourself movement supported by technology, such as electronics, robotics and 3-D printing, available in maker spaces in many communities. The project will look at whether the maker culture can help reshape how we connect high school vocational education, academic coursework, informal learning, and community based learning. The project will bring teachers, university-based researchers, and leaders of non-school maker spaces to rethink how academic and vocational topics relate to one another. By doing so, the project is moving towards a new technical environment in which different groups of people can work on personally relevant technical problems (like fixing your own car) and simultaneously learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This project will use design-based research and a partnership between the Malden Schools, Tufts University, and Artisan’s Asylum to design and implement a community-school partnership maker space. This space will host activities involving formal vocational education, formal academic courses, informal education, and community participation. An iterative curriculum design and development process will create a number of learning units that take advantage of the space and of the skills of vocationally tracked students, some of whom will be paid to tutor peers and adults in the technologies available. Research will examine the degree to which the social status of vocational subjects and students in vocational tracks can be raised, and whether it can be used to increase academic achievement in core academic subjects. Additionally, research will examine the impact of bringing together adult makers with teachers to design these units, including especially whether this co-design process helps infuse inquiry driven teaching and learning across subjects.