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Open Access Inventing with Maker Education In High School Classrooms

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Although maker education has become a popular theme in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, there is little empirical evidence from qualitative studies offering guidance as to how the processes and practices of maker culture might be integrated into school settings. This is a problem when preparing students for careers where the lack of student engagement with real-world problems in coursework is the most predictive factor in determining which students will abandon STEM studies (1). Even highly successful students may be demonstrating skills such as test taking, but they are perhaps not learning literate practices in STEM fields (2). This interactional ethnographic study focused on the actions and discourse among teachers, students, administrators, and parents. Through an analysis of video and textual records of activity across four years, it explored opportunities for learning and engaging in collective, goal-based, and problem-based activities. It made visible how these actors influenced the co-creation of a maker-based STEM culture at an independent high school, as activities evolved from an after-school club focused on designing, building, and launching high-altitude balloons to an electronics and software coding elective lab course incorporating elements of the science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) movement. The author's dual role as both teacher and researcher grounded his ethnographic fieldwork in maker education and invention.

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Keywords: ENGINEERING EDUCATION; ETHNOGRAPHY; MAKER EDUCATION; STEAM; STEM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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