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Title: Youth-Community Invention: Community Epistemologies and Expansive Iterative Design
Objectives We examine the community epistemologies in youth’s iterative refinements of STEM-rich inventions across settings and time. Iteration in STEM-rich engineering/invention work refers to re-thinking ideas/designs within prototyping processes (Cunningham & Kelly, 2017). The objective of this paper is to examine the political dimensions of iteration through a) how iteration involves pre- and post-design “lives” of inventions especially towards new social futures, and b) the intentional incorporation of cultural epistemologies towards advancing new forms of legitimate inventor knowledge/practice (Yosso, 2005). Framing We draw from critical justice and consequential learning studies. Critical justice focuses on recognizing diversity and addressing structural inequalities perpetuated through systemic racism and classism. It seeks re-shifted relations of power and position within multiple scales-of-activity in learning, intersected with historicized injustices in learning environments. Consequential learning examines what matters to people, and how associated values and practices, when coordinated through social activity, allows for imagining new social futures (Gutierrez, 2012). Viewing the iterative process of inventing through a justice-oriented consequential lens calls into question traditional modes of knowing, and challenges/expands who and what areas of expertise are recognized and valued. Methods Our study takes place in two community makerspaces in mid-sized cities. Both center community engagement and support youth in designing/inventing to more » address problems they and their communities care about. Both also support minoritized youth in inventing through engagement with a wide range of community/STEM stakeholders. In researcher-educator roles, we collaborated with both makerspaces to establish programs supporting youth in sustained engagement in STEM and making/inventing in culturally-sustaining ways. In our two-year, longitudinal critical ethnography, data were generated in weekly community making sessions between 2016-2018. Data include artifacts, youth conversation groups, and videos capturing youth interaction with STEM and community experts at various stages in their design process. Analysis involved multiple stages and levels of coding based on open-coding and constant comparison procedures. Findings We ground our paper in four in-depth longitudinal cases of youth’s iterative design work: Nila’s light-up #stopracism sign; Su’zanne’s massaging slipper, Sharon’s geodesic play dome, and Jazmyn’s portable fan. Across cases, we illustrate three findings. First, youth located broader injustices within local making/inventing discourses with support from community and STEM allies, suggesting youth drew from multiple epistemologies, some grounded in community cultural wealth, others in STEM. For example, Su’Zanne drew from a familial culture of care and resistance in recognizing injustices nested in homelessness while iterating a way to make her slipper “more massaging.” The geodesic dome youth-makers drew from collective solidarity/resistance in making a structure for younger peers due to unjust lack of play infrastructure. Second, iterative engagement involving community wealth afforded further design and inventing experiences and expanded ownership over inventions across many stakeholders. For example, youth turned Nila’s #stopracism sign on during group discussions when they felt that racism needed to be foregrounded. Third, the afterlife of youth invention processes impacted the emergent inventor-maker culture through influencing the iterative process. Significance Iterations expand hybridization of cultural knowledge/practice and STEM-rich inventing, re-shaping whose cultural knowledge matters, and fostering justice-oriented collective outcomes. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
2021587
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10189366
Journal Name:
American Education Research Association
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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