S5-STEM4-4 - Expanding Informal Maker-Based Learning Programs for Urban Youth

3. Research Full Paper
Foad Hamidi1 , Amy Freeland1, Shawn Grimes2, Stephanie Grimes2, Adena Moulton3, Andrew Coy3
1 University of Maryland, Baltimore County
2 Independent Researcher
3 Digital Harbor Foundation

This Research Full Paper contributes to research on creating maker-based learning experiences for youth in diverse informal learning settings. A key research question in this space is how to efficiently and effectively setup maker learning spaces and train educators to deliver high-quality maker curriculum in diverse sites. To study this question, we developed and deployed a multi-phase maker educator training program that included makerspace setup, educator training, and youth program deployment. We deployed three models of the program at three participating sites over roughly nine months. We analyzed data from educator pre- and post- interviews and found that the programs generated considerable interest in the youth and resulted in positive shifts in career aspirations and social and technical skills. Participants emphasized the importance of creating hybrid online and offline resources and training materials. Our participants also identified logistical challenges related to recruiting educators and youth attendance. Finally, participants described possibilities for content localization and the inclusion of participatory approaches to keep youth and educators engaged.