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  1. 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 »youth in designing/inventing to 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
  2. Autumn, 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 »tell her story. She is an author on this paper. Also during this time, Autumn has shifted from wanting to be a hair designer (5th grade) to wanting to own a “green” (environmentally friendly) hair salon (8th grade), to considering engineering as a possible career (10th grade). Autumn has struggled with being labeled “a girl in the background” and someone whom her mother described in 7th grade as “if she would just get Ds, I would be happy.” However, over the past 6 years, Autumn has engaged in an ever-increasing range of STEM-rich actions and relationships, including building a Little Free STEM Library, leading workshops on energy efficiency, making educational movies for her community to teach about green energy, and writing for her afterschool STEM club blog. We are interested in Autumn’s engagement with others in these activities over time and space, and how they shape her own and her community’s engagement in STEM. The overarching question that guides this manuscript is: What are the interactional forces that operating across space and time that influence Autumn’s becoming in STEM, as a white girl, growing up in multi-generational poverty in a Midwestern city. Using Holland & Lave’s (2009) two forms of history –“history in person” and “history in institutionalized struggles”–we examined several pivotal events, and the micro-dynamics at play, identified by Autumn with respect to becoming in STEM. We sought to make sense of the ways in which Autumn’s STEM experiences were carried out in local practice but also enacted against the broader background of cultural/historical narratives. In this process we traced Autumn’s core commitments-in-practice in STEM & Community. We also examined how these core commitments-in-practice led, at times, to conflict and new forms of “contentious local practice” (LCP) as these commitments-in-practice pushed back against particular local, historical and sociocultural contexts.« less