World STEMination: Creating STEMinists in Makerspaces across the World

Year: 2017

Author: Sheffield, Rachel, Blackey, Susan, Koul, Rekha, Maynard, Nicoleta

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Since the acronym, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) was first coined in the late 1990s in the United Stated by the National Science Foundation, the STEM fire has spread across the world. Fanned slowly at first, the STEM fire is now burning unabated across the world with countries articulating the need for an increase in STEM workforce to meet future needs. Current research has determined that the core discipline areas of science, mathematics and technology continue to be taught separately as school subjects with little or no integration. Authentic integrated STEM education would be evidenced by the immersion of students in "rich" cross-curricular tasks as a preferred way of learning. Rather than trying to squeeze more material into a very crowded curriculum this research uses a Makerspace approach to provide an opportunity for students to apply their subject knowledge to hands-on, engaging projects. With the application of STEM knowledge and skills we posit that a Makerspace approach is ideal for the acquisition and demonstration of 21st century skills: problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and communication.
The Makerspace approach described in this presentation is based upon the Reflective Identity Formation Model (Sheffield & Blackley, 2016) and was implemented in in research projects, using an interpretivist case study method, in Western Australia, Indonesia, and India.
These projects enabled the hands-on learning of pre-service teachers and then after reflection supported the translation of their learning into the primary classrooms through a Makerspace activity. This presentation shares student data (school students in Years 5 and 6) as they all participated in the same Makespace activity - "Wiggle Bots". Their confidence, engagement and identification and application of science knowledge was compared between the three countries. The results indicate that the Makerspace approach was extremely effective at engaging all students in integrated STEM education, and students could demonstrate their understanding of the STEM components using their diagrams of their Wiggle Bots. Whilst the socio-cultural contexts of the schools in the countries differed, the engagement of the students was comparable - despite being quite different to usual modes of instruction in Indonesia and India. This presentation would be of interest to teacher educators in STEM fields.
Keywords. STEM, pedagogy, confidence, engagment