Collaborative Research: Making Space for Story-Based Tinkering to Scaffold Early Informal Engineering Learning

Project: Research project

Description

This is a Research in Service to Practice proposal for design-based research to investigate impacts of oral storytelling approaches to designing and facilitating engineering learning opportunities in children’s museums. The project will address when and how parent-child engagement in spatial thinking and reflection is supported by story door-openers that offer reasons for needing to solve problems. In the first phase of the project, a sample of 360 families representing the diversity of the Chicagoland area will be observe in Chicago Children’s Museum’s (CCM) Tinkering Lab, a 1,700 square foot workshop space. To test of the idea that stories can promote inclusive and equitable learning, we will recruit 20% of the sample though an existing relationship with a community organization that serves families in a primarily Hispanic, working-class neighborhood. Reliable ways of observing indicators of spatial thinking and reflection in parent-child hands-on behaviors and conversations will be developed, including a system that can be used for live coding. Reports from children elicited immediately after tinkering and weeks later will answer whether setting a story context can support richer and longer-lasting memories for STEM-related informal learning experiences. Our measures of interactions during tinkering and afterward will enable systematic comparisons across different stories and methods of introducing stories, as well as between story and no-story control conditions. In this way, the project will test both how different tinkering activities can support spatial thinking and reflection, and the additional benefits of practices that use story hooks to engage children and families in engineering learning.
In a second phase of the project, the utility of promising storytelling approaches identified in the first phase will be evaluated by 10 additional children’s museums, including small museums, and museums in rural locals. Data gathered from these sites, and documentation and feedback reports from these partners, will deepen the theoretical and practical understandings resulting for this project.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date9/1/198/31/22

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (DRL-1906808)

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museum
engineering
learning
parents
informal learning
working class
documentation
coding
conversation
organization
interaction
community
experience