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Principles for Equity-centered Design of STEAM Learning-through-Making

October 1, 2019 | Public Programs

Described by Wohlwend, Peppler, Keune and Thompson (2017) as “a range of activities that blend design and technology, including textile crafts, robotics, electronics, digital fabrication, mechanical repair or creation, tinkering with everyday appliances, digital storytelling, arts and crafts—in short, fabricating with new technologies to create almost anything” (p. 445), making can open new possibilities for applied, interdisciplinary learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Martin, 2015), in ways that decenter and democratize access to ideas, and promote the construction of new understandings (Blikstein, 2013). Further, when learners develop a nuanced understanding of the designed dimensions of things, systems, and knowledges, they begin to understand that the objects, ways of operating, and even ideas in their world are constructed, and therefore, changeable (Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman, 2016). There is power in this understanding, and it is fundamental to contemporary approaches to learning that encourage making as inherently agentive and empowering for learners.

In this Rapid Community Report, we make the case for centering equity in the design of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) learning-through-making. When the foci of design, critical problem-solving, and creation reflects learners’ lived experiences and interests, it is more likely for learners to feel empowered as designers and makers of things that matter to them and their communities, thereby shifting the culture of learning-through-making to be more expansive and responsive to inequities that learners experience in their daily lives.


  • REVISE logo
    University of Arizona
  • Michelle Schira Hagerman
    University of Ottawa
  • Rebecca Woodland
    University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Citation


    Funding Program: STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Part
    Award Number: 1825076
    Resource Type: Reference Materials
    Discipline: Art, music, and theater | Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Materials science | Technology
    Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals
    Environment Type: Public Programs | Making and Tinkering Programs
    Access and Inclusion: Ethnic/Racial | Asian Communities | Black/African American Communities | Hispanic/Latinx Communities | Indigenous and Tribal Communities | Pacific Islander Communities | Immigrant Communities | Women and Girls | People with Disabilities | English Language Learners | Low Socioeconomic Status | Rural | Urban

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