The Makerspace Movement: Sites of Possibilities for Equitable Opportunities to Engage STEM among Underrepresented Youth

Dr. Calabrese Barton is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She is a recognized leader in science education and for the last 19 years has studied informal learning environments as a mechanism for breaking down cultural and institutional barriers to science for low-income youth and students of color. Most recently, she received a grant from the National Science Foundation to engage middle-school students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in engineering in “makerspaces.” Makerspaces provide opportunities for young people to acquire engineering knowledge and to design and create manufactured works in a collaborative community setting. Although makerspaces are expected to increase engagement for all groups, the movement has not been successful in reaching groups typically underrepresented in the sciences. Calabrese Barton will be immersed in two organizations that offer makerspaces to gain a stronger understanding of how daily management and practice decisions affect access to and engagement in informal learning opportunities for low-income students and youth of color.

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