Growing Designs with biomakerlab in High School Classrooms

We report on the development and implementation of biomakerlab, a wetlab starter kit for synthetic biology activities in K-12. In synthetic biology, participants make their own DNA—gene by gene—and then grow their designs into real applications by inserting them into microorganisms to develop different traits and characteristics provided by the genes. High school students worked with biomakerlab to make logo designs using microorganisms they manipulated to produce differently colored pigments.


Fabricating Engagement: Benefits and Challenges of Using 3D Printing to Engage Underrepresented Students in STEM Learning

Cultural Repertoires: Indigenous Youth Creating With Place and Story

In this paper, we present an example of culturally-responsive making in the context of developing location-based community stories. Working with members of an Indigenous community in the Southwestern United States, we co-designed and implemented a two-week summer camp in which middle school youth used Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS), a narrative-based programming tool, to create virtual community tours for the purpose of sharing the information they learned about tribally owned locations with others.


Lessons Learned Creating Youth Jobs in an Afterschool Maker Space

Additive Innovation in Design Thinking and Making

A Maker is a modern-day tinkerer and hands-on builder of DIY artifacts. Makers create their inventions wholly out of their imaginations, with the support of a rich collaborative online and in-person community. This paper describes the results from a qualitative study of adult Makers and their characteristics of collaboration in the Maker community. Results indicate that Makers exhibit a mindset of Additive Innovation. This describes the open community of sharing and learning that is the Maker community. Connections between engineering and Making are also discussed.


Failing to learn: The impact of failures during making activities

Making is a recent educational phenomenon that is increasingly occurring in schools and informal learning spaces around the world. In this paper we explore data from maker educators about their experiences with failure. We surveyed maker educators about how they view failure happening with youth in their formal and informal programs and how they respond. The results reveal some concrete strategies that seem to show promise for helping educators increase the likelihood that failure experiences for youth can lead to gains in learning and persistence.


Source Code and a Screwdriver: STEM Literacy Practices in Fabricating Activities Among Experienced Adult Makers

This article presents results from developing and applying an initial analytic frame for observing and explaining literacy practices in making activities. It describes literacy-related themes that emerged when the framework was applied. These themes are discussed within the making process of fabrication, one of a number of goal-directed stages of making. Findings indicate that literacy practices in fabrication are openly shared, networked, and often oriented toward interfacing between physical and digital worlds. Results come from interviews with 14 adult makers.

Math in the Making: Reflections for the Field

In September 2015, with support from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1514726), TERC and the Institute for Learning Innovation launched the Math in the Making project to engage the field in discussions about the relationships between mathematics and making and, in particular, to consider how integrating the two might both enrich making experiences and support mathematical learning and interest development for children and adults.


Making It Social: Considering the Purpose of Literacy to Support Participation in Making and Engineering

Digital literacies for disciplinary learning explores intersections of digital and disciplinary literacies across learning contexts such as community makerspaces and schools and examines learning across disciplines including the arts, engineering, science, social studies, language arts, and math. Columns will address work with both youth and adults, both in school and out of school. Digital enhancements will encourage interactivity with readers and will provoke questions, comments, and connections.


Debugging open-ended designs: High school students’ perceptions of failure and success in an electronic textiles design activity

Research on productive failure has examined the dimensions which are most beneficial for students’ learning of well-defined canonical problems in math and science. But failure plays an equally important role in solving open-ended, or ill-defined, design problems that have become prominent in many STEM-oriented maker activities. In understanding the role of failure in openended design tasks, we draw on Kapur’s conceptualization of productive failure and connect it to research on the role of construction in learning.