Tinkering Together: Creating Accessible, Inclusive and Equitable Approaches to Tinkering Education at Makerspaces
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A makerspace is a setting for informal and experiential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) learning experiences. Work within the makerspace values the process of tinkering for exploration of ideas and materials over the project that may be created. The guiding question for this research is: How do we create accessible, inclusive, and equitable STEAM learning experiences for students in informal learning settings? “Soaring Socks: a Catapult Tinkering Challenge Exhibit” examines issues pertaining to accessibility and inclusion within tinkering and makerspaces. Participants use tools to design, build, test and iterate their catapult with an objective of launching a sock into a laundry basket. Students gain knowledge of the engineering design process, Newton’s laws of motion and the ability to work with data science. After evaluating the activity, recommendations include utilizing process-oriented questions for facilitating tinkering with students, expanding community access to tinkering through mobile activities, and providing multigenerational learning opportunities. Educators must recognize students’ cultural and other identities when designing and facilitating activities. Access and inclusion to tinkering are pathways toward equity in learning.