Icon for: Sinem Siyahhan


California State University San Marcos

Play in the Making Project

NSF Awards: 1623558

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Play in the Making project supports the engagement of middle school students with diverse backgrounds in making through designing games around real-world problems using design thinking process in schools and libraries. Students utilize both low and high-tech tools and go through empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test cycles to create games that raise awareness or teach others about a topic that they and their communities care about. As part of the project, the research team works closely with three middle school science teachers in California and three librarians in Arizona to facilitate teaching and learning design thinking in the context of making. Parents are also invited to participate in different stages of the design process as informants, co-designers, and user testers to support students’ learning. Our research questions are: (1) How does engaging in game design through design challenges foster students’ design thinking, self-efficacy, and perceived relevance of making and STEM in their lives? (2) What strategies and forms of parent engagement are most productive for broadening participation of underrepresented student populations in Making and STEM in formal and informal environments through game design? and (3) How do the design thinking practices of mentors (teachers and librarians) change as they gain experience in facilitating design challenges for learners in the context of Making? Our findings also highlight the opportunities and challenges of integrating design thinking across formal and informal teaching and learning environments. 

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