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What If? Building Creative Cultures for STEM Making and Learning


"A 2014 review of the literature found a growing number of studies celebrating the potential power and excitement of the Maker movement in education (Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014). Most of these studies address implementation of activities, such as e-textiles or engineering; some explore the nature of Maker communities of practice. Only in the last year or so has research begun to emerge that addresses core issues of teaching and learning or the ways in which Making can be positioned to empower learners from economically and racially marginalized communities (Vossoughi et al., 2016).

The results of our study contribute to the literature by demonstrating the ways in which Making can support valued STEM learning outcomes. It also addresses a gap in professional development, which often focuses exclusively on how to implement activities. Though educators must have firsthand experience doing the Making activities they will later facilitate with students, our study suggests that this experience is only the beginning. To support equitable Making programs, educators need to learn together how to create a culture that leverages the potential of Making to engage students in the full scope of STEM practices. A "what-if" culture recognizes and builds on what students know and can do. It supports process and iterative design, helping students to persist through difficulties and imagine new solutions. It intentionally fosters reflection and meaning making."