Playlist: Identity and STEM Learning

This playlist was created for the October 2020 Theme of the Month.

Discussion for October: Identity Development and STEM Learning

The Discussion related to Identity Development and STEM Learning is now live! Introduce yourself and let us know your interest in exploring this theme. This discussion will continue through November.
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Leonard Abella

    Leonard Abella

    October 20, 2020 | 11:11 a.m.

    ¿How to upgrade STEAM to STREAM easier?

    Thanks a lot!

    Leonard Abella

    WhatsApp: (+57)3196781753

  • October 26, 2020 | 11:46 a.m.

    Hello Leonard. And thank you for your question. Forgive my unfamiliarity here, but what does the "R" in STREAM refer to, reading? If so, I assume that this a current challenge in your work? In any case, identity development is certainly important for learning the disciplines within STEM, and STEAM, whether, say, developing a science identity is a learning goal of a project or program, or that it simply needs to be accounted for in the design of an activity or setting, and how. These are the kinds of issues that we hope to begin catalyzing a discussion about tomorrow. Best, Jamie Bell

  • October 27, 2020 | 07:03 p.m.

    Hi everyone, following up on our chat about how to support students in navigating discussions that are open to different cultures in making sense of the world in STEM.

    I am going back to the example of evolution because it's an iconic case where different cultures may be perceived as separate, articulating, or contradictory. So here's a scenario: The teacher's goal is for students to "Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence". The teacher engages students in a shared experience of small group collaborative inquiry into evidence of commonalities and differences between genetic information of humans and chimpanzees (fossil records, DNA sequences, amino acid sequences, anatomical and embryological, ...) to identify patterns by obtaining and evaluating information. The teacher then asks them to discuss as a whole group an open-ended question: Is there common ancestry between humans and chimpanzees? How do we know?

    In this scenario, how could the lesson design be improved to support students in navigating discussions that invite to draw from different cultures in making sense of their common experience?

    (with the assumption that scientific disciplines are cultures - with their own socially-constructed norms, values, language - and that they are dominant in school but not necessarily in other spheres of students' life)

    I hope this concrete example is helpful in initiating an open and meaningful conversation about STEM and identity. I look forward to knowing more about your diverse perspectives and experiences.

  • October 28, 2020 | 07:06 p.m.

     Coralie, thanks for this very interesting question.  It is sensitive terrain for a teacher to navigate, and I am wondering if there is a "common experience" or many diverse experiences that draw on many different parental values, beliefs, religions etc.  As adults many of us have reconciled religious beliefs and scientific understandings (although they can seem discordant) but not sure how this works with young students who are making sense of scientific norms while holding on to family values. Would love to hear from others and especially from educators who have dealt with this in their classrooms. For those reading, please post your thoughts! 

  • October 29, 2020 | 08:07 p.m.

    I like the idea of taking diverse experiences as a starting point. Knowledge drawing upon different experiences may be constructed through different epistemologies (e.g. the consensual answer to the question "how do we know?" differs in biology and in a given religion). In an open discussion in the classroom, I wonder if acknowledging these different "ways of knowing", as well as their interactions in forming identities would help. Valuing these ways of knowing and identities, as well as presenting them as an ongoing process rather than a product, may be good starting points to help students perceive how identities may mutually enrich each other. Would love to hear examples from educators as well! :-)

  • Icon for: Zahra Hazari

    Zahra Hazari

    October 28, 2020 | 08:22 p.m.

    In Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, both religion and the needs of society motivated major scientific advancements in astronomy, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, etc.  It wasn't until the Greeks that applied forms of science became less "pure" than philosophical abstract forms.  And later in post-Renaissance European history, clefts were driven between religious motivations and scientific pursuits (e.g. Inquisitions of Galileo).  Individualism driving competitive culture also took hold of the scientific enterprise.  These European cultural remnants linger in western scientific pursuits today but are less prominent in other cultures (even though western science has been largely globalized - I won't get into colonization since this post may get too long).  I think that understanding where cultural tensions emerge from might be one place to start the conversation.

  • October 29, 2020 | 09:19 p.m.

    I love the idea of a socio-historical approach to contextualize cultural tensions, as well as forms of knowledge that are part of these cultures (what we know, why it happens, how do we know...) ! I also heard in your presentation that it would be important to acknowledge how power dynamics shape and institute cultures. Thanks, Zahra!


  • October 29, 2020 | 11:02 a.m.

    How does your work promote resolution between the unfortunate divides between the home and community-based identities of BIPOC students and the mathematics and science (STEM) identities projected to us all? In what way has your research and instruction attended to youth identify, urban identity, hip hop identity and others on the outside of STEM identity? Thanks for your good work!

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