New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Participation in the school-based science fair is ubiquitous to the middle-school student. Rising in popularity is the community based, extracurricular Maker Faire for the young tinkerer or maker. With this study, we share perceptions of these 2 canonical STEM events from the perspective of Young Makers. We report on the perceptions of science fairs and Maker Fairs from the perspective of 35 young Makers ages 7-18, who participated in a flagship Maker Faires in the United States. Using thematic analysis we analyze their responses during qualitative interviews and report on their impressions of their science fairs and Maker Faires experiences.
Both science fairs and Maker Faires present authentic STEM learning opportunities for the K-12 student. They have similar formats where the student presents work that they have done, both the process and end product or result. Opportunities often arise in both to engage and excite a student in an area of curiosity. Both types of fairs want their participants to interact with each other and provide each other with feedback and a learning environment. They also want the participants to well document their projects.
Emerging themes indicate both similarities and differences and how those affect the projects represented in each. Both types of fairs are unique and provide a learning experience for their respective participants. Participating in Maker Faires is, study participants believe, provides more applied learning about science, engineering, and community concepts as compared to their participation in science fairs. Maker Faires may provide an opportunity for schools to promote deeper learning. Additional analysis will explore this further.
An example of a science fair is the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, around since the 1950s. ISEF materials define science fair as “research [as]… a process by which people discover or create new knowledge about the world in which they live…Students design research projects that provide quantitative data through experimentation followed by analysis and application of that data.” Specific learning objectives are learning the scientific method, answering a question, and communicating their research clearly. The science fair also offers an opportunity for feedback on how their project compares to others in a competitive school setting (with awards at the local, regional and national competition level).
Organizers describe Maker Faire as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, …an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.” Maker Faires have become increasingly popular since inception more than 10 years ago, with attendance at flagship Bay Area Maker Faire reaching 130,000 and 85,000 at the flagship New York Maker Faire. Aims are promoting self-motivated learning, give makers a place to freely show of their project, and to be transformation educational experience.
An increasing trend is bringing making activities to K-12 in the classroom, in collaborative maker spaces, and through clubs. This may allow for opportunities to benefit from both science fairs and Maker Faires, including a new initiative to have Maker Faires at schools. We will present implications for STEM and STEAM informal learning and means to engage in STEM, and particularly engineering, in and outside of the science classroom in K-12 education.
Mabey, M. J., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2016, June), Young Makers Compare Science Fairs and Maker Faires Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27066
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015