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Multi-Gen STEM Makerspaces Will Boost School, Career Prospects

Photo collage of families doing makerspace activities together

Project Name
Multi-Gen STEM Makerspaces in Affordable Housing: Co-Designing a Model with the Community

Project Description

The Multi-Gen Makers project is a collaboration with residents from Bayview Towers, a 200-unit affordable housing complex in Connecticut. Through a design-based research approach with iterative cycles of co-design, the project will develop and research a sustainable model for multigenerational making and learning that build the skills and dispositions that can support a STEM career trajectory.

The community’s range of interests, skills, and life experience will be key to informing decisions around activities and how the workshops take shape. The project will produce a web-based and downloadable Multi-Gen Maker Playbook comprising an educational guide for a series of workshops and a program model that guides similar communities on how to create and run sustainable and thriving programs of their own.

This project brings together CAST, the NHP Foundation/Operation Pathways, a national affordable housing provider with robust services for residents to support mobility from poverty, and the Boston University Social Learning Lab, which researches the social context for STEM learning.

The Multi-Gen Makers project will:

  1. Create a sustainable model for multi-gen STEM makerspaces that develops the conditions for STEM maker culture and structures to take root in affordable housing for low and moderate income families and details operational considerations required by affordable housing leaders in order to establish and maintain a vibrant community-based makerspace in affordable housing.
  2. Advance knowledge for the field on how members of low and moderate income communities make sense of STEM concepts in makerspaces and engage in consequential learning—where community knowledge, practices and needs are combined with deepening STEM disciplinary knowledge.
  3. Broaden participation in informal STEM learning by developing a sustainable model for makerspaces in affordable housing coupled with research on how low and moderate income communities participate in making.

Makerspaces are designed to facilitate problem-based and project-based learning that relies upon hands-on, collaborative learning experiences as a method for solving authentic problems.They empower young and adult learners as producers instead of consumers by providing them with access to materials and tools to make things of value to them.

While makerspaces have cropped up in schools, libraries, museums, and other settings, low-income communities have not had the same access to these resources and their learning opportunities as more affluent ones.

This project will aim to change that by embedding STEM learning in families’ lives, allowing caregivers, children, young adults, and neighbors to gather and share their existing knowledge and skills and build on it, using STEM to meet personally relevant goals, be these to pursue a STEM career pathway or nurture a hobby or interest.

Timeline

2020 – 2022

Funder

NSF Advancing Informal Science Learning (AISL), Innovations in Development

Partners

NHP Foundation/Operation Pathways
Boston University Social Learning Lab

Project Leadership

Sam Johnston, CAST (PI)
Jess Gropen, CAST (Co-PI)
Kim Ducharme, CAST (Co-PI)
Kathleen Corriveau, Boston University (Co-PI)
Ken White, NHP Foundation/Operation Pathways (Co-PI)

Contact

For more information about this project, contact Kim Ducharme.

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