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Connecting to the Physical Space through Funds of Knowledge: Lessons Learned from a STEM Summer Enrichment Program (Fundamental, Diversity)

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Informal Engineering Education with Secondary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32539

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32539

Download Count

108

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Paper Authors

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Joel Alejandro Mejia University of San Diego Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3908-9930

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Dr. Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia is an assistant professor of Integrated Engineering at the University of San Diego. His current research investigates how the integration of the historically and culturally accumulated wealth of knowledge, skills, and practices - also known as funds of knowledge - and engineering design can serve as a pathway to and through engineering. Dr. Mejia is particularly interested in how Latinx adolescents bring forth unique ways of knowing, doing, and being that provide them with particular ways of framing, approaching, and solving engineering problems. Dr. Mejia’s primary research interests lie at the intersection of engineering education and social justice. He is particularly interested in the integration of Chicanx Cultural Studies frameworks and pedagogies in engineering education, and critical consciousness in engineering through social justice.

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Vitaliy Popov University of San Diego Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2348-5285

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Dr. Vitaliy Popov is the Associate Director of Research at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education (JI) at the University of San Diego (USD), a research center named after Dr. Irwin and Joan Jacobs of Qualcomm that has a history in investigating best practices for technology in education. He has both a BA and MS in Education and Learning Sciences with a focus on engineering education, as well as a PhD in Educational Technology. For his dissertation, he looked at how technologies can foster cross-cultural collaboration for students from over 55 countries. Over the last eight years, he has presented and published papers on education and technology at AERA and in journals such as Computers in Human Behavior. Currently, he is serving as a co-principal investigator on two projects funded by the National Science Foundation (Awards #1826354 (RFE) and #1713547 (AISL)); one of these projects is developing a STEM summer camp that supports career pathways for Latinx students.

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Victoria Rodriguez

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Damian Ruiz San Diego State University

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Damian Ruiz is Assistant Director of the Cultural Proficiency Institute for Educators at San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies, where he designs and implements culturally responsive curriculum for current educators, institutions, and graduates. Damian is also Program Manager of the Cultural Proficiency Minor for undergraduates at San Diego State University's College of Education. Additionally, Damian is a Lecturer at San Diego State University for various Multicultural Education courses. His work is grounded in a social justice perspective to support equity-and inclusion-oriented initiatives in education.
Damian is currently a graduate student participating in San Diego State University's Master's in Education Program specializing in Critical Literacy and Social Justice.

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Perla Lahana Myers University of San Diego

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Perla Myers is Professor of Mathematics at the University of San Diego (USD), where she has been on the faculty since 1999. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Houston, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego. Perla is passionate about achieving equity in education and diversifying the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and believes that one step towards these goals is changing the reaction people have towards mathematics: She would like people to smile when they hear the word mathematics.

Dr. Myers works closely with students, colleagues and the community, as transformation is achieved through joint efforts, when students, families, future teachers, educators, leaders come together to create affirming experiences, delve into creative explorations, and empower each other to persevere, enhance their understanding, and reinforce the belief that they are capable. In collaboration with her students, colleagues and the community, Perla enjoys creating experiential opportunities in mathematics and STEAM at USD and at K-12 schools locally and abroad, including summer camps, family nights, mathematics walks, teacher workshops, conferences, and other community events. Her most recent initiative, Project Mathigami, takes advantage of origami to explore mathematics with college students, educators, and K-12 students and their families.

Perla has been active with the Mathematical Association of America, is the liaison for the Association for Women in Mathematics to the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS), and is a proud life member of SACNAS. She co-organized Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers (PMET) national workshops, and was co-PI on a California Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant for an Inquiry Learning Partnership with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and a couple local school districts. Perla is currently PI of an NSF grant to explore ways to help middle school students enhance their STEAM identity. and is PI of an NSF S-STEM grant to increase the number of college students in STEM. She received the University of San Diego’s Women of Impact Award, the Innovations in Experiential Education Award, and the Mathematical Association of America Southern California-Nevada Section Award for Distinguished University Teaching of Mathematics.

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Joi A. Spencer University of San Diego

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Dr. Spencer is Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Her research sits at the intersection of mathematics education, teacher education and educational equity. She is currently co-PI on the NSF grant, “Bridging the World of Work and Informal STEM Education”and serves as the president of the California Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (CAMTE).

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Abstract

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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