Authors: Lou Lahana
Addresses: Columbia University Teachers College, 525 W. 120th St., New York, NY 10027, USA and The Island School, 442 E. Houston St., New York, NY 10002, USA
Abstract: Educational makerspaces are fertile grounds for students to develop innovative products infused with science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) principles, and practice social action. Yet, rarely do these makerspaces prioritise such outcomes. Rather, they tend to revolve around the creation of novel artefacts using low and high technology. Drawing on field observations, interviews, and artefact analysis, this qualitative study explored the experiences of low socioeconomic students participating in a social action themed school makerspace. Based on a transformative research perspective, the teacher-researcher sought not only to infuse STEAM and social studies into student work, but to also address the 'participation divide', a term suggesting that students of higher socio-economic status have more opportunity to produce media creatively than their low-SES counterparts. Qualitative results indicated that students reported increased agency in effecting positive change in their world. Their creation process required extensive research and brought about social action within their communities. Their products included a cigarette smoke-detecting shirt, an edible bug stand, and handcrafted wallets and jewellery for the homeless. The study concludes with recommendations for the implementation of educational makerspaces in schools.
Keywords: educational makerspace; participation divide; social action; educational technology; middle school.
International Journal of Innovation in Education, 2018 Vol.5 No.1, pp.31 - 44
Received: 04 May 2017
Accepted: 21 Feb 2018
Published online: 24 Jul 2018 *