Principles for Equity-centered Design of STEAM Learning-through-Making

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Resource Type:
Report | Reference Materials
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Making and Tinkering Programs
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals
Art, music, and theater | Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Materials science | Technology
Access and Inclusion: 
Asian Communities
Black/African American Communities
Hispanic/Latinx Communities
Indigenous and Tribal Communities
Pacific Islander Communities
Immigrant Communities
Women and Girls
People with Disabilities
English Language Learners
Low Socioeconomic Status
University of Arizona, University of Ottawa, University of Illinois, Chicago

Described by Wohlwend, Peppler, Keune and Thompson (2017) as “a range of activities that blend design and technology, including textile crafts, robotics, electronics, digital fabrication, mechanical repair or creation, tinkering with everyday appliances, digital storytelling, arts and crafts—in short, fabricating with new technologies to create almost anything” (p. 445), making can open new possibilities for applied, interdisciplinary learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Martin, 2015), in ways that decenter and democratize access to ideas, and promote the construction of new understandings (Blikstein, 2013). Further, when learners develop a nuanced understanding of the designed dimensions of things, systems, and knowledges, they begin to understand that the objects, ways of operating, and even ideas in their world are constructed, and therefore, changeable (Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman, 2016). There is power in this understanding, and it is fundamental to contemporary approaches to learning that encourage making as inherently agentive and empowering for learners.

In this Rapid Community Report, we make the case for centering equity in the design of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) learning-through-making. When the foci of design, critical problem-solving, and creation reflects learners’ lived experiences and interests, it is more likely for learners to feel empowered as designers and makers of things that matter to them and their communities, thereby shifting the culture of learning-through-making to be more expansive and responsive to inequities that learners experience in their daily lives.

Funding Program: 
STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Part
Award Number: 

Team Members

Jill CastekJill CastekEditor
Michelle Schira HagermanMichelle Schira HagermanEditor
Rebecca WoodlandRebecca WoodlandEditor

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