STEM Design Strategies to Engage Underrepresented Students

Although “making is a stance toward learning,” Minecraft is proving to be an object to learn with as well as think with in many after-school programs. “Talking about tinkering while doing it, in person and online, can enhance social contexts for peer learning and for learning thinking skills,” however, inequities continue to exist in underserved communities — what Henry Jenkins has called “the participation gap.”

Digital Youth Network, among others, has been busy trying, assessing, and spreading the word about practices that effectively bridge the gap. At DML 2016, on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 12:30 p.m., panelists Ugochi Acholonu, Lisa Brahms, Caitlin K. Martin, Nichole Pinkard, Ricarose Roque, Jim Sandherr, and Peter Wardrip — a mixture of researchers, practitioners, and designers — will discuss “Making a Difference: Design Strategies to Engage Underrepresented Communities in Maker Spaces.” In this video below, I spoke to one of the panelists, Digital Youth Network Postdoctoral Research Fellow Ugochi Acholonu.

Among the many strategies, projects, and studies to be discussed in this panel are three that Dr. Acholonu has been involved with in Chicago: the Mobile Van Initiative that broadened access to STEM equipment and expertise to traditionally underrepresented families (four sites each week for six weeks), a free Saturday Minecraft camp for 9-12 year olds at De Paul University, and Digital Youth Divas that engaged underserved girls with circuitry, programming, fabrication and design. The DML2016 panel will cover these projects and others — what worked and didn’t (and why), and how to replicate and spread similar programs.

Banner image credit: Ugochi Acholonu