- STEAM Education: Hands-On Project-Based Learning and Modern Workforce Skills
- Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Research: ‘Wicked Problems’ and the Anthropocene
- Boundary Objects: Tools for Cross-, Multi-, Inter-Disciplinary Communication
- The Shift to a Skills-Based 'New Economy'
- Grassroots Opportunities for Learning
- A History of U.S. Manufacturing and Innovation
- Emergence of the Makerspace Movement
- Makerspace Ecosystems: Mini-Case Studies of Local and Global Changemakers
- Operational and Cultural Phenomena in Makerspaces
- The Future of Makerspaces
STEAM education, the blending of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, serves as a foundation for essential life and work skills in the 21st century, fostering early exposure to hands-on interdisciplinary learning and collective engagement. The practice of interdisciplinary research is on the rise because of the universal need to solve for complex, socio-cultural, and socio-environmental challenges (Castan Broto et al., 2009). This is extremely important in the face of the 'Anthropocene', the new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on earth.
Because human activity is the driving factor of environmental change, we need to find more collaborative ways of resolving systemic issues that are not isolated to one sector or discipline. It is often said that we will not resolve these issues with the knowledge and thinking we used to create them in the first place (a quote by Einstein and sentiment shared among many change leaders). Considering how material, human, and non-human entities co-shape our worlds, education in the Anthropocene must be “interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory” (Gough, 2021).
While the need for this type of engagement is apparent, the majority of hands-on, interdisciplinary STEAM education is often taught in grade school settings, especially in schools with library makerspace facilities. This collaborative approach to project-based learning is also offered in higher education institutions, especially in the design and science fields. However, obtaining a college degree is not universally accessible.
As adults, we turn to third spaces (social spaces outside of school and work) to learn new skills, foster social cohesion, and build social capital. Makerspaces, a type of third space, emerge as accessible hubs for hands-on STEAM learning and community engagement, bridging gaps in education accessibility beyond formal institutions.
Preliminary Research Gathering
To visualize the connections between research topics, I used mind and concept mapping based on research findings. These maps morphed and evolved throughout the research process, adding and removing research areas as the project progressed.
Researcher's Reflection, Fall 2021:
STEAM education is seen as a successful way to introduce students to multiple disciplines in order to gain understanding of how to engage interdisciplinary because of the integration of the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity/innovation are among the top skills that are enforced by this style of project-based learning.
Based on my assessment of the innovation landscape, it is clear that there is a lot of interest in arts education as a separate topic outside of the STEAM umbrella. There are more games targeted at teaching STEAM than there are articles on training educators about STEAM education.
Of the ways STEAM education is taught, Makerspaces have the least academic research, although from some of the literature I've reviewed it seems that they are an extremely successful way to get students to interact with the fields under the STEAM umbrella.
By integrating firsthand perspectives, personal reflections, and direct observations, the research aims to uncover nuanced insights into the intricate dynamics and effects within the makerspace ecosystem.