June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
The concept of funds of knowledge has been widely studied in different educational contexts. Funds of knowledge are described as the historically accumulated skills, experiences, practices, and ways of knowing that develop within a household for functioning and well-being. Sometimes these include the intellectual, communicative, emotional, resistance and even spiritual resources for learning that emerge from household practices. As a framework, funds of knowledge is important when trying to understand the learning processes occurring at home that can be transferred into any learning environment (e.g., school, museum, library, after-school program). However, there has been little discussion on how STEM summer camp facilitators can effectively adopt and implement an asset-based approach based on funds of knowledge. This study sought to understand how STEM facilitators, also known as Pod Leaders in this study, understood “funds of knowledge” as a framework and utilized it as a tool to elicit and make the most of the funds of knowledge participants brought to a two-week STEM summer enrichment program. Three core questions guided this study: (1) How do Pod Leaders understand and utilize the framework of funds of knowledge?, (2) What strategies were used to elicit the STEM summer enrichment program participants' funds of knowledge?, and (3) In what ways does identifying their funds of knowledge help participants see themselves in the STEM fields? The study involved 16 Pod Leaders (8 undergraduate students, 5 graduate students, 3 in-service teachers) working with 77 incoming sixth-graders from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM (primarily Latinx English Language Learners) for two weeks. All Pod Leaders came from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM (predominantly women and of Latinx or African ancestry). The STEM summer enrichment program was divided into two sessions, and served 39 and 38 participants during the first and second sessions, respectively. The participants and Pod Leaders engaged in STEM activities (including mathematical visualization, engineering design process through the development of towers and chain reaction machines, explorations with Arduino and circuits, and mathematical thinking through paper folding), outdoor team-building activities, activities to learn about themselves (their strengths, values and interests), and activities to learn about possible careers (through career cards, games, virtual reality experiences, conversations with and presentations from STEM professionals). Results indicated that Pod Leaders of the STEM summer enrichment program were aware of the value of identifying and exploring the funds of knowledge. Pod Leaders also indicated that there were differential societal norms that may impact how children and educators value funds of knowledge. Although the Pod Leaders were highly conscious and sensitive to the role of funds of knowledge, they mentioned that connecting this knowledge to the physical spaces and formal classroom practices was challenging. The results from this study provide some direction on how to help develop reflective educators and STEM camp facilitators that can engage in practices that are truly transformative in K-12 engineering education. Documenting these experiences has the potential to provide a better understanding of how to engage in the scholarship of activism that leads to shifts from deficit models toward more asset-based approaches.
Mejia, J. A., & Popov, V., & Rodriguez, V., & Ruiz, D., & Myers, P. L., & Spencer, J. A. (2019, June), Connecting to the Physical Space through Funds of Knowledge: Lessons Learned from a STEM Summer Enrichment Program (Fundamental, Diversity) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32539
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