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Escaping the Acronym: moving making beyond STEAM

Session 4
Colin Angevine, Josh Weisgrau — Friends' Central School

Even with the addition of "A" for art, STEAM is too limiting an approach for thinking about the potential for maker and constructionist education. Making can provide opportunities to learn not only academic content, but also skills and ideas that have been underrepresented in traditional academic contexts. Learning through making can recalibrate the balance between discursive knowledge and embodied knowledge, challenging students to think in different ways and providing onramps for a wide audience of students. In our school makerspace we found success by choosing to define our program by the core values of agency, authenticity, and audience, rather than a discrete set of academic disciplines. These values, drawn from Seymour Papert's learning theory of constructionism, also line up with Deci and Ryan's self determination theory and we have seen that projects that embrace these values increase student engagement.

Participants will gain an understanding of how making in schools can support much more than just STEM, or even STEAM, learning. They will leave the session with ideas for maker projects that support a wide range of learning and learners as well as ideas for how to present these concepts to their own school communities.

Conversational Practice

After a brief presentation on how we have used a values-based approach to situate our school makerspace, all participants will engage in an open discussion around this topic.

We will share some specific projects we have done with our students and will encourage participants to share projects as well.

We will conclude the session with a “think-pair-share” activity that will allow participants time to collaborate with each other to help each other plan or modify value-driven maker projects for their own schools and practice.

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