August 23, 2022
June 26, 2022
June 29, 2022
Our NSF-funded project, CoBuild19, sought to address the large-scale shift to at-home learning based on nationwide school closures that occurred during COVID-19 through creating making/STEM activities for families with children in grades K-6. Representing multiple organizations, our CoBuild19 project team developed approximately 60 STEM activities that make use of items readily available in most households. From March through June 2020, we produced and shared videos and activity guides, averaging 3+ new activities per week. Initially, the activities consisted of whatever team members could pull together, but we soon created weekly themes with associated activities, including Design and Prototype Week, Textiles Week, Social and Emotional Learning Week, and one week which highlighted kids sharing cooking and baking recipes for other kids.
All activities were delivered fully online. To do so, our team started a Facebook group on March 13, 2020. Membership grew to 3490 followers by April 1st, to 4245 by May 1st, and leveled off at approximately 5100 members since June 2020. To date, 22 of our videos have over 1000 views, with the highest garnering 23K views. However, we had very little participation in the form of submitted videos, images, or text from families sharing what they were creating, limiting our possible analyses. While we had some initial participation by members, as the FB group grew, substantive evidence of participation faded. To better understand this drop, we polled FB group members about their use of the activities. Responses (n = 101) were dominated by the option, "We are glad to know the ideas are available, but we are not using much" (49%), followed by, "We occasionally do activities" (35%). At this point, we had no data about home participation, so we decided to experiment with different approaches.
Our next efforts focused on conducting virtual maker/STEM camps. Leveraging the content produced in the first months of CoBuild19, we hosted two rounds of Camp CoBuild by the end of July, serving close to 100 campers. The camps generated richer data in the form of recorded Zoom camp sessions where campers made synchronously with educators and youth-created Flipgrid videos where campers shared their process and products for each activity. We also collected post-camp surveys and some caregiver interviews. Preliminary analyses have focused on the range of participant engagement and which malleable factors may be associated with deeper engagement. Initial feedback from caregivers indicated that their children gained confidence to experiment with simple materials through engaging in these activities.
This project sought to fill what we perceived as a developing need in the community at a large scale (e.g., across the US). Although we have not achieved the level of success we expected, the project achieved quick growth that took us in a different direction than we originally intended. Overall, we created content that educators and families can use to engage kids with minimal materials. Additionally, we have a few models of extended engagement (e.g., Camp CoBuild) that we can develop further into future offerings.
Maltese, A., & Paul, K., & Simpson, A., & Zych, A. (2022, August), Creating online supports for at home making and STEM projects during COVID-19 (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/40411
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