Author Archives: getcityo

Power Tool Arcade Day (Guest Blog by Autumn)

Hi! Im the GET City blogger, Autumn! You can read my blogs here. I am writing to tell you about some of the amazing maker stuff we have done this fall. December 8th was GET City’s ‘POWER TOOL ARCADE’ presentation day! Since the end of October, the kids in GET City have been building arcade games. This way we got to learn how to use different power tools at the same time we learned some science, like forces and motion.

The power tool arcade presentation was for the GET City members to explain why and how they they built their games, and how they play the game. J and M said that they built the bumper pool table so that the younger kids could have a pool table (only the older kids have one at the club). The games were so good and they really worked. Also, when everyone was done presenting their games, all of the kids that came in to watch were able to be able to play the games. The games included Foosball, Skeeball, race track, pukketball, and other games.

Right when everyone left and it was time to clean up, we decided to the manikin challenge. Here is our manikin challenge video!

Collective Science Literacy

Collective STEM literacy: Pushing us all forward
Written by Sarah Keenan

We usually think of literacy as an individual competence – whether it has to do with our ability to read and write or to understand and apply scientific concepts. Scientific literacy, and STEM literacy more broadly, is the ability to make sense of the science in our world; but how does this develop? Sense-making, knowledge about and interaction with scientific concepts happens constantly – beyond the walls of school, beyond books, and definitely extending beyond adult authority figures who hold the “right” answers. This kind of literacy learning is a social and collective act: collaboration with peers helps youth decide what counts as important knowledge and gives them the opportunity to scaffold each others’ growth, as their individual strengths and understandings combine to develop a strong, collective STEM literacy.

In Making4Change, youth take action on community problems that hold meaning for them, engineering and designing solutions to these problems with an eye for green energy technologies. By exploring the ways in which our community culture shapes the nature of problems, the STEM literacy of the youth in this program is tapped into a community need. This gives them a platform to highlight their own STEM literacies beyond what might be recognized in school, and to challenge existing solutions.

Every project in M4C is shaped by the collective STEM literacy of the groups – every participant influences the direction of the project. By developing solutions with a group, individual competencies needed to achieve the goal of the project are identified and unite youth by giving them each a chance to share their STEM abilities. Each year we find students position themselves as experts in certain STEM literacies (for example: soldering, light bulb energy usage, etc.) in such a way that their peers can take advantage of this knowledge, building their individual STEM literacy and while contributing back to the collective literacy and ability of the group.

A lot of time our time in M4C is spent in groups, with youth members leading and mentors giving advice to help develop the collective STEM abilities of the group. For the most part our sessions take place in one room, which allows for a crossing of boundaries between projects, so youth are able to share skills and knowledge across different groups. The “expert feedback” days are an opportunity to expand the collective nature of this literacy, as youth present their inventions to professionals, receive their feedback and use outside expertise to inform the direction of their project and push their own abilities.

M4C provides a place where STEM is connected with the daily lives of youth, legitimizing their interests and abilities, giving them a platform to showcase their expertise and collaborate with their peers. As these youth frame STEM as useful to themselves and their projects, individual abilities build a collective literacy that pushes every person’s ability to act as an agent for the public good.

Productive Identity Work Classroom Series #2- Knowledge

Written by Katie Schenkel

Welcome to my second post in the Productive Identity Work Classroom Series. In this post, I am going to talk about leveraging your students’ knowledge to promote positive outcomes. Teachers know that knowledge is important for students’ success in science and engineering. Standards and textbooks point to the specific types of content knowledge that students will need. However, everyone has other important and valuable types of knowledge that is sometimes ignored by traditional curricula. This post is going to focus on ways class communities can value the various types of knowledge that students bring into the classroom. Just like you, students know many things from their family, experiences and everyday life! When students can combine this knowledge with their new science and engineering practices, transformational learning and doing can occur.

Here are three tips for helping your students utilize their different funds of knowledge in science class:
1. Connect the unit goals to your students’ community. For example, during your ecology unit, have your students investigate invasive species in your community and design plans to mitigate the problems caused by the species. Have your students draw upon what special characteristics they know about their community. Have them share their ideas, proposed solutions and engage with local experts.
2. Highlight and use your students’ contributions to class to guide the class flow. For example, if a student describes a scientific phenomenon they saw at home or another parts of their life, bring it up multiple times later on in the class discussion and link class activities to that phenomenon in future activities. This could be as simple as working to understand as a class why the school’s basketballs seemed flat right when they were taken out of the coach’s car, but seemed to magically inflate as practice continued. It could be part of the day’s discussion then be incorporated into gas law experiments in future units.
3. Provide opportunities for your students to showcase their other skills, interests and talents in science class. For example, I knew some of my students were enthusiastic about creating computer slideshows while some of my artistic students enjoyed making informational posters. Therefore, I would occasionally give students the option to complete their assignment using the format they preferred. I provided them a rubric so they knew what information was needed on their assignment. To really help students to showcase their skills, interests and talents, you can even invite them to come up with another way to share their knowledge that fits their expertise better. They can use the rubric as a guide to know what information they need, but can use their own experience to determine the best way for them to meet the criteria of the assignment. Finally, remember to celebrate their expertise by providing opportunities to share their work in a meaningful way.

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Jennifer helping other youth makers using her sewing skills

What ways have you found to value and leverage all of your students’ knowledge?

Productive Identity Work Classroom Series #1- Recognition by Others

by Katie Schenkel


 

As a new member of the Invincibility Lab team, I have been quickly learning about what is important for productive identity work in science and engineering. Our productive identity work framework depends on 1)developing knowledge and practice within a community of practice, 2)recognition by others and 3)positioning/agency. Through a series of blog posts, I am going to provide some examples of how to promote each of these three parts from my experience as a teacher. The first post will focus on how to help students receive recognition for their expertise from their communities.

Showcases are a great way for students to be noticed and praised for their STEM work by the larger community. Last fall, my class hosted a showcase at the end of their robotics project.

Here are the simple steps we took to make sure that it was a success:

  1. Invite the students’ families to attend. At my school, many families could not come so the students and I would video and email or text the projects to their families.
  2. Invite the school community to the showcase. For example, our school nurse, guidance counselors, some teachers and other science classes attended.
  3. Make sure the showcase is an open house. Your community is busy! People will be more likely to stop by if they know they can just drop in for a few minutes.
  4. Position the students around the room and invite the guests to go learn from all of the students about their projects. If guests have extra time, ask them to complete a questionnaire about what they liked about the students’ work.

You may be worried that no one will come to your showcase, but rest assured because I have two tips. If there are not many visitors, simply divide your class and have the students take turns visiting each other’s projects. Also, emailing or texting the videos to the students’ families was important for many of the students. It is just making your class’s showcase more virtual and accessible. What ways have you found to foster greater recognition for your students’ expertise?

Also, you can check out our productive identity framework here if you want to learn more!

 

Youth’s Engineering Design for the Public Good

In our collaborative work in community settings, we have been interested in how youth investigate and take action on scientific issues that matter to them and their communities. We have investigated the role that youth interactions with a range of experts — including STEM and community-based — play in their efforts to engage in engineering for the public good. In particular we have been interested in how does doing engineering for the public good shape the ways in which youth framed their engineering problems and design solutions as they interacted with a range of STEM and community experts? And, how and for what purposes did the youth leverage interactions with STEM and with community experts in their engineering design work for the public good?

To answer these questions, we are currently delving, in-depth, into cases of middle school youth who are engaged in engineering design on safety issues in their community. For example, some of these cases include: 1) The case of two young women who envisioned and prototyped a solar powered heated sweatshirt in response to a set of safety, scientific and community concerns as part of an afterschool club. 2) One young man who designed a solar powered light up football for use in the dark when streetlights don’t work. 3) Three boys who designed wind powered phantom jacket.  All cases are from youth who are members of community-based maker club housed in a community center serving low-income youth in the midwest.

What are finding is that as youth worked with networks of experts, they negotiated technical/social dimensions of their engineering design with increasing complexity. (e.g., how they framed the special vulnerabilities of their communities such as access, cost as well as the particular technical specifications they cared about). Such connections with external community leaders (technical and community-centered) also served as pathway brokers or “on-ramps” for youth to delve more deeply into both the content and particular community needs. Lastly, youth drew upon the ways in which experts engaged their projects as “sources” of legitimization for how and why they sought to re-purposed and re-mixed community and technical ideas, tools, and practices acquired as they navigated and brokered across a range of communities of practices.

We think these ideas are important because they illustrate how youth expanded the boundaries of participation in engineering through multiple and far-ranging interactions, reshaping how learning engineering design might be refigured towards the public good.

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Making 4 Change Video Overview

Enjoy a quick video highlighting the goals and design of Making 4 Change. The youth co-authored this video with us, originally for the NSF video show case for research and development projects focused on teaching and learning. Enjoy!

Click HERE for video!

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Youth makers and change agents!

 

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Come visit the video productions prepared by youth makers who have designed for community safety in sustainable ways. They are changing their communities — and our world — one prototype at a time! #makerspace #making4change

——  Youth Maker Movies   ——-

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Youth Showcase their Making Talents!

by Christina (mentor), Fall (youth maker & blogger), and Anna (youth maker)

On Thursday, 7 May 2015 the youth who participate in Green Energy Technologies in the City (GETCity) presented their final engineering designs to the Lansing, Michigan community at the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing. The program involves 20 participants per week and provides opportunities to engage youth in engineering for sustainable communities (with a green energy focus). In particular youth take on problems that are locally relevant and of global importance while deepening their understandings of science ideas and practices. The goal is for youth to use their developing expertise to take action in their community. The design challenge for this school year focused on an initial driving question, “What devices, powered by alternative energy, will help solve problems in my community?” The youth then moved from an defining initial problem space to optimizing design solutions through iterative cycles of design.

The inventions the youth showcased were the center of attention of community members, parents, and other club youth alike. Youth presented in a stage-like audience beginning with their group-authored movies that described the engineering work they engaged in throughout the year ending with showcasing their invention and details on the problem space their invention addresses. Fall, a GETCity veteran and returning volunteer notes:

At the end of the year event, I saw everyone’s final work on their experiments that they have been working on for the past couple of months. These inventions look amazing and I loved seeing everyone that is in GETCity having fun and wanting to learn more about science and green energy. Also it was nice getting to help out and getting to come back to GETCity [this year].

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