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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 supportmore »
Becoming Somebody in STEM: Developing a cultural of criticality in the space between person and historyAutumn, a young white woman growing up in multi-generational poverty in an economically challenged midwestern city, has authored a STEM-empowered life against the dominant sociohistorical narrative in American society. She has attended public schools that served significant populations living in high poverty – overcrowded classrooms, high teacher turnovers, out-of-field teaching, and limited STEM resources. Yet, she has authored herself into STEM despite these mitigating circumstances. Autumn is currently a high school senior with aspirations to become an engineer or a hairdresser working in an eco-salon. She spends part of her time after school in a makerspace housed in her local community center, building things to solve other people’s problems. She reminds us that her out-of-school efforts to participate in STEM exist worlds away from schooling. However, she takes the optimistic view that if she could tell teachers about her out-of-school STEM experiences, her teachers might be better able to help her and her peers serve the interests and needs of her community, as well as see Autumn’s potential in STEM. Now a rising 12th grader, we have followed Autumn since 5th grade through school and afterschool. As she grew older, she became more interested in helping us to document andmore »