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Work in Progress: Exploring the Role of Makerspaces and Flipped Learning in a Town-Gown Effort to Engage K12 Students in STEAM

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre- College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1751.1 - 26.1751.15



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Paper Authors


Paula Rees University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Paula L. Sturdevant Rees is Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). In addition, she is the Director of Diversity Programs for the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst. As Director of Diversity Programs, Dr. Rees works with students, faculty and staff to provide exceptional education and professional growth opportunities for under-represented students in engineering. She is dedicated to increasing and maintaining student interest in engineering and related science and technology and works with several regional K12 programs to help increase the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

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Christine Olson University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Christine Olson is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research interests include media production and social participation practices online, social inequality and new media technologies, children and new media, and digital media literacies. Her work has been presented at International Communication Association conferences.

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Charles M Schweik University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Charles M. Schweik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. Schweik is the author of Internet Success: A Study of Open Source Software Commons (MIT Press, 2012), which examines collaborative principles in open source software projects.

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Steven D Brewer University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dr. Steven D. Brewer is Senior Lecturer II and Director of the Biology Computer Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A science educator by training, he serves as a consultant to faculty on the implementation of technology in support of education. He is also president of the Board of Directors of Amherst Media and co-founder of Makers at Amherst Media, a town-gown Makerspace.

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Work in Progress: Exploring the Role of Makerspaces and Flipped Learning in a Town-Gown Effort to Engage K12 Students in STEAM  The Maker movement is a grassroots effort to democratize technology and innovation: totransform consumers into people who create, produce, and, well, Make things. In many ways, theMaker movement represents a logical extension of synthesis of current trends in education: learning, problem based learning, team-based learning, flipped classrooms, andcommunity-service learning. At the National level, the education connection of makerspaces toinspire youth in STEM education fields is high profile. The White House proclaimed a NationalDay of Making on June 18th, 2014, and released the same month a report entitled “Building aNation of Makers: Universities and Colleges Pledge to Expand Opportunities to Make”. OurUniversity is in the beginning stages of building a Town-Gown Makerspace where students at alllevels can pursue independent projects collaboratively and learn about technology andentrepreneurship.A Makerspace can mean many things, but in this context we are describing a physical spacewhere people with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) canmeet up, work on projects, and learn through “Doing-it-Yourself” or “Doing-it-Together”. It isalso a place where Makers of all ages can come together and help and learn from one another.Our Maker community was originally formed in 2012 with a focus on organizing classes andworkshops for community teens. In January 2014, we partnered with a local non-profit to beginoffering regular hours for a community Maker Meetup and to hold a pilot 3-day long“Makerspace” event including a two-day workshop for middle school students. In May 2014, wereceived funding to continue the drop-in Maker Meetups and expand these efforts to includeadditional workshops for middle school students. This fall, through a partnership with our localschool district and funding through the District’s 21st Century Community Learning Centergrant, we are offering a weekly afterschool Maker curriculum for middle school students. TheUniversity supports the afterschool program, Maker Meetup, and weekend K12 workshopsthrough several mechanisms, including a Public Service Endowment Grant and faculty, staff andstudent partnerships across three colleges and multiple departments. Perhaps most transformativeis the integration of an experimental University “flipped”, service learning, Makerspace coursewith both the afterschool and Maker Meetup programs. The University Makerspace Coursemeets concurrently with the Maker Meetup drop-in hours, and students from this course will bepresenting their work and engaging the middle school students in their efforts which utilize awide range of open engineered (non-proprietary) technology and software including Arduinomicrocontrollers, Raspberry Pi computers, electronic sensors, “e-textiles”, 3-D design andprinting, and video creation.Our pilot programs already offer a clear indication that there is significant untapped potential toleverage the strength of the university academic communities (both faculty and students) withthe interest and desire of the broader local community and school district. We will present ourinitial work as well as our plans to address two overarching research questions: (1) what are themost effective formats for successfully engaging K12 students in STEAM through Makerspaceformats, and (2) understanding the institutional designs and economic sustainability ofmakerspaces and makerspace networks.

Rees, P., & Olson, C., & Schweik, C. M., & Brewer, S. D. (2015, June), Work in Progress: Exploring the Role of Makerspaces and Flipped Learning in a Town-Gown Effort to Engage K12 Students in STEAM Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25087

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