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Friday, October 7 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Equity in Makerspaces: Creative Resource Movement

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Makerspaces have been framed as a way to facilitate access to STEM because they provide an open platform for individuals to make -- on their own time and their own terms (Calabrese Barton, Tan, & Greenberg, 2016). Most makerspaces have porous boundaries allowing a more fluid movement of resources into and with the makerspace. However, the field lacks deep understanding of how youth from minoritized communities access, use, move, re-purpose and re-mix resources towards transformative ends in community-based makerspaces. 

We are concerned with how youth creatively leverage/move resources towards unveiling and legitimizing cultural knowledge & practice, power dynamics & inequality, and community concerns that were previously invisible, especially in the prototypical STEM and making worlds. This equity concern tied to resources is the focus of our session. 

The papers in this session raise new ideas and questions around how youth build understandings for themselves and others in STEM through making in new and powerful spaces.
- One paper examines the ways in which digital media tools and practices serve as sites of possibility for youth to creatively push against existing resources and to claim new positions (Kafai & Peppler, 2011). Videos emerged as moments of self-expression, deliberate moves to exhibit proof and ownership of knowledge/skills, and a desire to showcase solutions and unique expertise developed for community needs. For example, upon completing a light-up greeting card, one youth excitedly made a DIY “How To” video as a public display of his pride and a platform for him to make the process/practices accessible for his peers.
- Another study, co-authored with 3 researcher-makers, reports on youth-developed multimodal cases (Vasudevan, Schultz, & Bateman, 2010) to discuss critical understandings of science and engineering learning in/out of school. Youth articulated counternarratives (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) challenging dominant ideologies about legitimate STEM participation. They connected personal, familial and broader community concerns in how youth identified problems and designed engineering solutions. The digital representations of their designs further layered these dimensions, creating opportunities for expansive learning (Engestrom & Sannino, 2010). For example, one participant’s prototype also became a potential therapy tool that merged her psychology and engineering interests. 
- A third paper examines the dialogic nature of youth/adult interactions that can in/directly influence youths’ making process in makerspaces. The authors explore how/when/why youth negotiate with adults, make decisions and negotiate for difference access points as they engage in making. This paper looks at the resources youth leverage to inform the design of their innovations (for example, a group who prototyped a motorized baby gate for an aunt who runs a home daycare). Insights from these negotiations provide data points for conjecturing what co-creating a community-based makerspace for underrepresented youth may entail.

All studies draw upon youth participatory methodologies, and take place in equity-oriented community-based makerspaces. Participating youth will join our session using Google Hangout. All studies draw upon fieldnotes/videos from multi-year participant observation, collection of youth-produced artifacts and interviews. Analysis involved constant comparative coding for iterative movement across data.


Christina Restrepo Nazar

Graduate Student, Michigan State University

Edna Tan

Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Friday October 7, 2016 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Emerald Bay E

Attendees (21)