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The Makerspace Movement: Sites of Possibilities for Equitable Opportunities to Engage Underrepresented Youth in STEM

Abstract

" Large gaps in achievement and interest in science and engineering [STEM] persist for youth growing up in poverty, and in particular for African American and Latino youth. Within the informal education community, the recently evolving "maker movement" has sparked interest for its potential role in breaking down longstanding barriers to learning and attainment in STEM, with advocates arguing for its "democratizing effects." What remains unclear is how minoritized newcomers to a makerspace can access and engage in makerspaces in robust and equitably consequential ways.

This paper describes how and why youth engage in making in an after-school, youth-focused, community-based makerspace program "Making 4 Change." Four in-depth stories of engagement are shared. Using a mobilities of learning framework, we discuss how youth appropriated and repurposed the process of making, and unpack how the program attempted to value and negotiate youths' ways of making from an equity-oriented perspective."

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