In collaboration with the Norwegian National Museum for Science and Technology, we will conduct small case studies of three different makerspace-practices. The first is the use of Strawbees (strawbees.com) which are tools for connecting straws and building various physical structures. The second is the use of micro:bit, which is an open programmable development board that enables making a whole range of creations from robotics to musical instruments. Finally, we want to examine how young children can make designs that they can print on textiles using specifically designed printers.
In addition to the overall research questions in MakEY, we are interested in examining how children traverse between a digital and a physical world and how they are able to make connections in creative ways. This also involves an interest in the skills and knowledge children make visible, draw on and develop as they engage with material and digital tools.
Finally, we want to gain knowledge about how children learn about the opportunities and constraints of materials and digital artefacts. Methodologically, we want to do a comparative case-study with to iterations of each activity. In terms of design we want to test two ways of framing the activities; one that is open where children more or less can explore on their own and get help when they ask for it, and one that is more structured. In the more structured approach students get a more clearly defined problem or challenge that they are supposed to solve and adults are more active in scaffolding children in their problem solving. In addition we also want to recruit a set of parents and their children and work with them over a slightly longer time span to see how children’s creativity and engagement develops and changes over time.
Designing for Making Across a Museum and a Kindergarten
Together with the Science and Technology museum in Oslo, our team has during the last year engaged in design based research. Through close collaboration with museum educators, early childhood educators and children from a nearby kindergarten, we have developed several learning designs involving making. To ensure that our interventions were grounded in actual practices and needs, we started with observing an existing activity in the museum involving the use of bee bots. Then we observed creative making in the kindergarten. From that, we developed an activity where we aimed to foster children’s creative making in relation to the issue of sustainable development. As part of our design based research, we have conducted three design workshops with partners in the project. In August we aim to conduct a final design workshop with participants and have the children engage in a final iteration of our learning design.