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Making and Tinkering: A Review of the Literature

Abstract

"The Maker Movement, a grassroots movement of backyard and kitchen tinkerers, hackers, designers, and inventors, has been dramatically expanding over the past several years. Since the first Maker Faire in 2006, making festivals, spaces, activities, conferences, and studies have multiplied (Bevan, Gutwill, Petrich & Wilkinson, in revision). A growing number of researchers and educational leaders see in making the potential to engage young people in personally compelling, creative investigations of the material and social world (Blikstein, 2013; Martin & Dixon, 2013; Martinez & Stager, 2013), to democratize tasks and skills previously available only to experts (Blikstein, 2013), and to expand participation in STEM fields by leveraging the strengths of interest-driven, multi-disciplinary STEM learning environments (Brahms, 2014; Martin, 2014; Sheridan et al., in press). In a June 2014 meeting at the White House, numerous agencies (including the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education), and corporations (such as Local Motors, Google and Intel), made commitments to supporting the expansion of making activities into community settings (White House, 2014).

In this paper, we draw on the research literature to consider 1) what is known about the impact of tinkering and making experiences on school-aged children's learning (interest in, engagement with and understanding of STEM in particular) 2) the emerging design principles and pedagogies that characterize tinkering and making programs and 3) the specific tensions and possibilities within this movement for equity-oriented teaching and learning."

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