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Supporting K-12 Student Self-Direction with a Maker Family Ecosystem

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Student-Centered Activities and Maker Spaces in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


James Larson Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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I am an undergraduate student in Arizona State's Electrical Systems Engineering program. This program, which isn't the same as Electrical Engineering, takes a project-based approach to the curriculum. I am 20 years old and excited to have this opportunity to offer a student's perspective on the future of engineering education.

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Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering programs at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design thinking, making and design innovation project courses. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply design thinking and making processes to their work.  He is interested in the intersection of designerly epistemic identities and vocational pathways. Dr. Lande received his B.S in Engineering (Product Design), M.A. in Education (Learning, Design and Technology) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Design Education) from Stanford University.

Dr. Lande is the PI on the NSF-funded project Should Makers Be the Engineers of the Future? He is a co-PI on the NSF-funded projects: Might Young Makers Be the Engineers of the Future?, I-Corps for Learning: Leveraging Maker Pathways to Scale Steam + Making Outreach Programs, Instigating a Revolution of Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking, and Increasing Learning and Efficacy about Emerging Technologies through Transmedia Engagement by the Public in Science-in-Society Activities. He was also a participant in the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning 2015 cohort (Leveraging Maker Pathways to Scale Steam + Making Outreach Programs) and served as senior personnel / instructional team on the 2014 pilot for NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning (I-Corps-L).

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus Orcid 16x16

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SHAWN JORDAN, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches context-centered electrical engineering and embedded systems design courses, and studies the use of context in both K-12 and undergraduate engineering design education. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University. Dr. Jordan is PI on several NSF-funded projects related to design, including an NSF Early CAREER Award entitled “CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society” and “Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future?” He has also been part of the teaching team for NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning, and was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014.

Dr. Jordan also founded and led teams to two collegiate National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest championships, and has co-developed the STEAM Labs™ program to engage middle and high school students in learning science, technology, engineering, arts, and math concepts through designing and building chain reaction machines. He has appeared on many TV shows (including Modern Marvels on The History Channel and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC) and a movie with his Rube Goldberg machines, and worked as a behind-the scenes engineer for season 3 of the PBS engineering design reality TV show, Design Squad. He also held the Guinness World Record for the largest number of steps – 125 – in a working Rube Goldberg machine.

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Engineering is the field of applied problem solving. This makes it different from other fields of study requiring from its participants more than knowledge of facts but also work towards a solution. Problem decomposition and generating alternatives and implementation are all part of it as well. Success as an engineering student or a professional engineer requires some understanding of designing in context and an interest in solving problems. The skills and dispositions of engineers are as important to their success as the knowledge that comes with years of study of math and science, and the frustrations along the way. Stevens describes the engineering educational experience as one of a “meritocracy of difficulty,” the general perception that the journey needs to be difficult to be worthwhile. A reflection of this on the K-12 student, and primary and secondary education at large, makes one consider where and how the requisite “grit” is forged.

Makers are those who use technology to solve problems and invent solutions. The problems are personal in nature to the individual Maker, resulting in passionate, self-directed work towards a solution. With this work, we investigate youth actively participating in the Maker Community and how lifelong learning, or self-direction, is supported by their family ecosystem. As part of the “Engineer of 2020” vision, particular student characteristics directly connected to the activities of Making such as creativity, practical ingenuity and lifelong learning are noted. Such skills and dispositions are hard to identify in young people. From qualitative interviews with these Young Makers and their parents at flagship Maker Faire events, we start to see evidence of roles in the learning ecology 6. We are interested in understanding these roles, how it may reflect maker family values, and how these values may translate to characteristics of successful K-12 students, and a pathway to interest and majoring in engineering, and engineering careers.

Larson, J., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2016, June), Supporting K-12 Student Self-Direction with a Maker Family Ecosystem Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25972

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