Creativity and Equity in STEM Education

Supporting young people from historically underrepresented communities to imagine and realise expansive futures.

Creativity & Equity in STEM Learning was an international project that aimed to explore informal science learning (ISL) programmes that operate at the intersection of the arts, sciences, technology and more. It examined the long-term impacts of these programmes for young people from communities historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

The programme brought practitioner organisations and University research teams together in partnerships at 5 different practice sites in the UK, Ireland, and USA:

  • Science Gallery Dublin (Ireland)
  • Guerrilla Science (UK/USA)
  • WAC College of Arts (UK), 
  • Listo America Club House (USA - the previous partner was Boys & Girls Club, Indiana)  
  • 5-YR Media (USA). 

Approach

Science Gallery Dublin brought groups of teenagers on a week-long exploration of topics relevant to them such as mental health or plastic pollution. The young learners documented the stories of their experience through reflective zines - handmade booklets using collage, drawing, and writing- and engaged with cutting-edge STEM research, as well as art and design practices, ethical debate, and creative problem-solving.

Researchers from the Creativity Lab at UC Irvine worked with adolescents in after-school coding and maker clubs in mainly Latinx neighbourhoods in Southern California. YR Media supported young learners in Oakland to develop critical computational literacy in six-month-long media-centred internship programmes.

Wac Arts offered an opportunity for young people in an underserved area of London to reconnect with learning through music technology after they had encountered struggles within formal education.

Lessons: Broadening STEM participation for underrepresented youth

In a second phase of the project learning designers and facilitators in these settings built on research findings from the Creativity & Equity in STEM Learning partnerships to create ‘transdisciplinary learning environments’. These environments  aimed to support youth in the development of culturally relevant, science-related identities and to create change-making projects within their own communities.

The research demonstrated that these ‘transdisciplinary learning environments’ allowed young people to challenge historic and systemic injustices and to build new understandings of how science was relevant to their lives, identities and cultures. These environments supported young people to create their own meaningful learning pathways.

Legacy

The programmes studied as part of this work have supported the participants to imagine and realise expansive futures, and the accompanying research has generated powerful stories of these young people forging paths into an unknown future.  

Project information

Project Partners:
University of Washington Institute for Science & Mathematics Education
Trinity College Dublin Science & Society Research Group
University of California, Irvine Creativity Labs with Listo America Clubhouse
YR Media (Oakland California)
Guerilla Science
London School of Economics

Project Leads: Joseph Roche, Mairéad Hurley (Trinity College Dublin)

Contact: Mairéad Hurley mairead.hurley@tcd.ie

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