Educator Panel

Between the Lines: Art, Code, and Making

Erin Riley, Kristen Erickson and Monica Ortiz

In the fall of 2013, this independent PK-12 girls’ school opened a digital fabrication space to support making and learning. Currently in its sixth year, the Engineering & Design Lab (hereafter referred to as “The Lab”) is utilized by teachers across departments and grade levels as a place for students to engage with ideas through hands-on work using low- and high-tech tools, digital design and fabrication, and computational and physical building materials. The Lab’s location at the “heart of the school” is a fitting metaphor for the space’s impact on a community of learners as much as it is practical; the space has become an important nexus for ideas and interdisciplinary work across subject areas.
This article describes a collaboration between an art history and a computer science class rooted in a large-scale art piece executed by the school community, and the use of the school’s makerspace as a critical site where students discovered connections among seemingly unrelated disciplines, blending art, code, design, and making. The project highlights the critical role makerspaces can play in schools by casting traditional subjects in a new light and providing the conditions for alternative understandings of content. In this example, students used methods drawn from computer science to craft their own rules-based work of art, expressed in both words and a drawing ultimately executed on a t-shirt. Code was used as a tool for understanding art, and art-making became a way to understand algorithms. The ability to move between these domains and to develop tools for connecting the technical and human fields of computer science, communication, and design are critical skills students need in our increasingly interdisciplinary world.

Enhancing Teacher’s Facilitation of STEM Learning Through Afterschool Makerspaces

Roger Horton, Stephen Gilman and Casey Lamb

We describe a maker-focused afterschool program which includes professional development of teachers as a central aim. The program serves New York City public school teachers and students. Teachers from multiple disciplines participate in the program; students are primarily 3rd – 7th graders attending Title I schools.
The use of a maker learning approach can develop teachers’ skills and confidence while at the same time engaging students in student-centered STEM learning that builds life and career skills including problem solving, collaboration, persistence, and autonomy. Teacher-reported knowledge and confidence increased significantly, and the use of student-centered maker activities by teachers’ during the school day increased. Students responded enthusiastically to the program and showed growth in targeted skills and dispositions.

Explode the Controller

John Lynch

The Explode the Controller project integrates physical play with creative computing by challenging students to create video games for large scale, homemade input devices that encourage actions like running, jumping and balancing. Explode the Controller activities were run in two after school programs over the past year, and were shown to be accessible and engaging coding projects for students of varying backgrounds, ages, interests, and previous experience levels. The novelty of the devices seems to promote collaboration within groups of mixed age and experience, and to encourage participation in the activities. Additionally, the common, inexpensive materials and basic construction of the devices allow for easy reproduction and modification. These results encourage further development of this approach to game design curriculum, especially by STEAM educators of diverse learning groups.

Privileged Maker Education in Underprivileged Community

Nalin Tutiyaphuengprasert, Nusarin Nusen and Narongsak Yonprawes

This paper describes how we modified our workshop for a remote Thai village with few high-tech resources. By combining student and teacher workshops, participant teachers were fully immersed as both learners in an authentic design task, and as facilitators for the student workshops. Teachers noted that even students considered to be less academically capable were able to gain expertise and articulate their own learning when challenged to create real products that solve local problems. We learned how to make do with local resources and still provide a high quality professional development experience for teachers, plus a unique learning experience for students.

What Do Teachers Need to Become a Maker Teacher?

Nalin Tutiyaphuengprasert and Nusarin Nusen

The Ministry of Science and Technology of Thailand has rapidly created 150 fabrication labs, also known as makerspaces, in 150 schools throughout the country in one year following the policy called Digital Thailand 4.0 in early 2018. As part of the provided professional development, KMUTT and Darunsikhalai School for Innovative Learning (DSIL) were assigned to mentor teachers from 16 schools. DSIL has been a leading digital fabrication school in Thailand since 2013. In two four day workshops for 34 teachers in September and October 2018, I collected interviews and learned from teacher’s reflections about what important skills or knowledge novice maker teachers need to feel prepared and ready to start their new teaching adventure.