Multi-Gen STEM Makerspaces in Affordable Housing: Co-Designing a Model with the Community
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Maker Kits to the Rescue!
Conducting our project remotely has provided the opportunity to pilot virtual workshops. “Maker Kits” — a collection of materials we physically send to participants for use in a specific activity — have been distributed to interested residents. In the coming weeks, facilitators and residents will connect online to engage in making activities. First up, paper engineering!
You can follow the project’s progress on the Bayview Makes website where we will are documenting the evolution of the maker community. Residents will also showcase their work on the site and by posting on social media using our hashtag, #BayviewMakes.
2020 – 2022
NSF Advancing Informal Science Learning (AISL), Innovations in Development
For more information about this project, contact Kim Ducharme.