1539 Views
  1. Megan McKinley-Hicks
  2. Graduate Research Assistant
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Boston College
  1. Mike Barnett
  2. http://iuse.bc.edu
  3. Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Boston College
  1. Meghan Broadstone
  2. https://www.edc.org/staff/meghan-broadstone
  3. Research Scientist
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Jackie DeLisi
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Meghan Hill
  2. Director of Theatre
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Watertown Children's Theatre, Mosesian Center for the Arts
  1. Ariella Suchow
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariella-suchow-76030464
  3. PhD Candidate
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Boston College
  1. Catherine Wong
  2. https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/lynch-school/our-community/urban-outreach.html
  3. Director, Urban Outreach Initiatives
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Boston College
  1. Helen Zhang
  2. Senior Research Associate
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS

Broadening Participation by Middle-School Students in STEM via Integrating Ha...

NSF Awards: 1811166

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Our Converge project strives to engage middle-school-aged youth in working across the disciplines of performing arts, computational science, and science. Art and science disciplines all have a “process” and a “product” aspect to them with both fields requiring students to use and apply 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative problem solving (McLain, 2014). By engaging in and recognizing the shared practices of performing arts and STEM endeavors, this project creates alternative pathways for youth to explore and construct their identities with science. Findings suggest that leveraging art and science can provide a means for identity negotiation through creative and collaborative expression. This project is inspired by the work of an interdisciplinary partnership among performing artists, scientists, science and performing arts educators, and education researchers.

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Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 4, 2020 | 01:03 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch the Converge Art and Science video. In this project, we leverage a youth-centered approach by foregrounding youths’ voices through story-making about personally-relevant social and environmental justice issues. Youth engage in science, engineering, and performing arts practices to bring their stories to life and share them with their family, friends, and teachers. Through these processes, youth engage in and reflect on thinking practices found in art and science disciplines (e.g., empathizing, collaborating, identifying problems and imagining multiple solutions, making mistakes and learning from them) and negotiate the importance of these commonalities. 

    Based on the voices of participating youth and their teachers in Converge, our project has evolved since its inception in 2018. A challenge that we have experienced, particularly in our work with middle-school-aged youth, is finding ways to support youth in taking risks and venturing out of their “comfort zones” when performing or presenting their work. A key design principle that emerged to address this challenge was promoting choice in group roles, processes, products. In addition to choosing the focal issue for their stories, youth select the platform for their group’s performance (e.g., short film, animation, dance), and the roles and processes in which group members will engage to create their performance (e.g., coding LED lights, designing fashion, writing poetry). By providing youth with meaningful choices, the processes and products are differentiated to meet their individual desires and needs. With that said, an ongoing tension has been supporting a productive combination of agency (student choice) and curricular structure. If you have any examples of or research on the integration between STEM and art, we would be interested in hearing about them.


    To learn more about the research outcomes, contact Ariella Suchow (suchow@bc.edu) and Megan McKinley Hicks (mckinlmb@bc.edu) both of whom are conducting dissertation research through this project.

  • Icon for: James Brown

    James Brown

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 09:34 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work.  How do you envision measuring the impact of your work?

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 5, 2020 | 11:39 a.m.

    We are conducting longitudinal case studies on a group of focal youth in the program, primarily relying on multiple rounds of semi-structured interviews with the youth and observational field notes from program sessions. We are particularly interested in learning about the experiences of youth who report that they are very curious and creative, but yet do not express a connection with science when they enter the program. 

     
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    James Brown
  • Icon for: Robert Reardon

    Robert Reardon

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 10:48 a.m.

    I would love to know more about how you facilitate the integration of arts and science in a specific project (or two). There was a tantalizing glimpse of students in what I presume was a performing arts scenario!

     
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    Perrin Teal Sullivan
  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 5, 2020 | 11:33 a.m.

    Hi, Robert. Thanks for asking this question. Integrating arts and science in meaningful ways has been a challenge with which we’ve wrestled over the past couple of years (and we continue to do so). Our approach has evolved substantially since we first started this project. Initially, we took an interdisciplinary approach by foregrounding the disciplines of art and science. We had separate sessions in which students would investigate an environmental justice issue (e.g., investigating water quality and access by performing water quality tests on local river water, generating water filters) and then make meaning of the science learning activities through performing arts activities (e.g., role-play, generating poetry). We later realized that this approach created somewhat of a divide between art and science, so we changed our tactic beginning in the summer of 2019. We now embrace a transdisciplinary approach by foregrounding youths’ stories about social and environmental justice issues of their choosing, rather than the disciplines of art and science. Youth engage in performing arts, engineering, and science to design and produce their stories. For example, a group of students created a play about the local effects of climate change and produced their play by engaging in the following: coding LED lights for costumes, designing and constructing costumes, writing a script, and directing actors (their instructors and mentors) to act out their play. Another group of students we are currently working with is planning to create an interactive art experience to raise awareness about voting rights and suppression. In this multimedia project, they’ll engage in 3-D printing, engineering, designing projections, and coding lights and music.

  • Icon for: Stacey Forsyth

    Stacey Forsyth

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 05:12 p.m.

    Can you share more about how you recruit teens to participate in the project? Are most drawn to the project because of an interest in the arts, or tech or science? I'm also curious to hear more about the tension you mentioned in your introduction, between supporting student agency and curricular structure. I've experienced a similar tension in our work in library Makerspaces. How have you approached balancing those priorities?

  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 08:37 p.m.

    I'll tackle the recruitment and let Megan tackle the other part.  Though, to the 2nd part, if we can perfectly figure that out then viola as every learning environment often sees such tensions. 

    In terms of recruitment, we have a partner schools and recruit from those.  The youth that are participating here are part of a larger program that is focused on supporting youth to get into college or other post-secondary institution and to graduate from that.  The youth are not necessarily interested in science nor are they particularly interested in the arts, in fact this cohort came to use with stronger interest in science than the the arts.  We suspect that they have so little art programming in their respective schools as many of them had never seen a play in a theater and so forth.  So at times it was necessary to take a step back and help students to see the practices, rigor, and creativity that goes into an artistic production.

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 6, 2020 | 11:31 a.m.

    Hi Stacey. Regarding your second question about balancing student agency and curricular structure, we are still wrestling with this tension. One thing we have noticed is that students are more likely to choose presentation platforms (e.g., short film, animation) and roles/processes (e.g., coding LED lights, fashion design, filming) with which they are comfortable, which is not surprising. To support students in trying out new endeavors and going beyond their comfort zones, we have structured the program sessions to include introductory/exploratory time for all students to share common experiences with learning activities in which they may have limited experience, such as 3D printing, coding LED lights, creative writing, and role-play games. This introductory/exploratory time has been helpful in supporting students to choose new (and still somewhat unfamiliar) roles and processes in their culminating group projects. We'd also love to hear how you've addressed this tension in your work in library makerspaces.

     
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    Perrin Teal Sullivan
    DeLene Hoffner
    Deborah Fields
  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 11:53 p.m.

    I think it's wonderful to support students in trying out new endeavors and going beyond their comfort zones. I feel often students don't even know their areas of interest or strengths until they have tried a buffet of options.  What is the tension you are finding between balancing student agency and curricular structure? Any suggestions you have for others trying this approach? 

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 02:56 a.m.

    Thank you.  The video is very inspiring and bring to light the importance of art in STEM.  Awesome!  What have you found to be your greatest challenge in this project? 

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 6, 2020 | 11:47 a.m.

    Thanks, DeLene! I would say the two greatest challenges have been finding ways to meaningfully and holistically integrate performing arts and STEM (see earlier discussion thread with Robert) and generating a productive combination of agency (student choice) and curricular structure (see earlier discussion thread with Stacey). Mike also eluded to another challenge in his earlier comment, namely that most of the participating youth in our program have had little experience with performing arts, with some only associating it with staged theater. We define performing arts as an artistic mode that tells a story, so having this broad conception supports youth in finding a performing arts avenue that they are specifically interested in (e.g., short film, animation, music).

     
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    DeLene Hoffner
    Deborah Fields
  • Icon for: Holly Morin

    Holly Morin

    Marine Research Associate
    May 6, 2020 | 01:20 p.m.

    This is a fascinating and commendable project! Thank you for sharing! Does the engagement with students happen during school hours, or is this an after school/extracurricular activity?  How often and how long do the students meet for these sessions?

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 7, 2020 | 11:40 a.m.

    Thanks, Holly! We meet with students outside of school for approximately 2.5 hours on ~13 Saturdays during the school year (October - May) in addition to a three-week summer session (60 hours total). We have found that the summer session is probably more beneficial for youth given that they are able to engage in STEAM learning activities more deeply due to the longer sessions and day-to-day consistency.

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Holly Morin

    Holly Morin

    Marine Research Associate
    May 7, 2020 | 12:36 p.m.

    Thanks, Megan! We have run programs where we conduct week-long summer intensives with students and find them to be more beneficial as the students can find time to focus and have that day-to-day consistency you mention. Your 3-week summer session, are those weeks back to back to back? Is it a daily program, or are students houses somewhere locally for the duration of the 3 weeks?  Again, great work!

  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 01:07 p.m.

    Yep, there is something to be said for immersive experiences.  The summer is back to back weeks  as all the students are recruited from local area schools.  Though we do provide a bus for youth as the public transportation to campus is rather dicey.  We have thought of moving off campus but there is also an important aspect of getting youth on a college campus and experiencing that.

  • Icon for: Holly Morin

    Holly Morin

    Marine Research Associate
    May 7, 2020 | 01:25 p.m.

    I agree completely, Mike, that getting the students on college campus is something special that they all really appreciate.  Do you bus them back and forth each day, or do you have housing as well (I know setting up campus housing can be equally tricky sometimes).  Thanks!

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 9, 2020 | 09:34 a.m.

    Yes, we providing bussing each day. It would be interesting to explore the possibility of setting up on-campus housing for an even more immersive college experience during those three weeks, but as you said this can be a little tricky :)

  • Icon for: Deborah Fields

    Deborah Fields

    Temporary Assistant Professor
    May 6, 2020 | 01:32 p.m.

    Neat project! What have been the biggest challenges in bringing art and STEM together for the kids?

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 7, 2020 | 12:10 p.m.

    Thanks, Deborah! Many of the youth come into our program with siloed views of art and science. One of our main goals is to support youth in deconstructing this compartmentalization by engaging in and reflecting on the common practices of performing arts and STE disciplines (empathizing, collaborating, exercising curiosity, etc.), so that they may recognize that art practices are relevant and vital in science and vice versa. In particular, many students initially associated the practices of imagining and creating with performing arts and disregarded the importance of these practices in STE disciplines. One of the most interesting preliminary findings from our study is that engaging in art-science projects has supported youth in recognizing the importance of imagining and creating in science disciplines. For example, one youth initially described imagining as unimportant in science, stating, “[Y]ou don’t imagine in science, you do in science.” After participating in Converge for a year, she indicated that imagining and creating were important in science “[b]ecause when you're trying to make stuff in science, it's okay that you add your touch.” Many youth echoed similar statements in interviews. Through their experiences in a transdisciplinary art-science space, it seems that youth are recognizing that they can express themselves and add their “touch” when engaging in science disciplines, which, in turn, may promote their disciplinary identification.

     
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    Audrey Shor
    Perrin Teal Sullivan
    DeLene Hoffner
    Holly Morin
  • May 7, 2020 | 07:37 p.m.

    Wow, this has been something I've always pushed. Not just ART and STEM, but my engineering students thinking broadly and outside the box. Great job and thank you for pushing this type of thinking forward. In my opinion, diverse ideas, diverse backgrounds, and diverse populations produce success. Do you plan to track any of the students through college and perhaps their professional life to see how your work impacted their academic and professional careers?

     
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    Perrin Teal Sullivan
  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 11, 2020 | 04:25 p.m.

    Thanks, Christopher. (And I’m sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, somehow I missed it!) I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about diversity, in its many different facets, supporting success. That is also a message that we aim to foster and embody in our work with youth similar to what you do in your project.

    It would be really interesting to keep up with our students through college and even their professional lives to understand the influence of their participation. We are especially interested in identity construction, which requires long-term research. For now, we are planning to study focal youths’ experiences over two years but again, it would be great to extend this timeframe.

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 12:26 a.m.

    I do love the idea of integrating the ART with STEM... is your main focus the performing arts ?  Do you include other art forms?  

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 9, 2020 | 09:28 a.m.

    We mainly focus on performing arts, defined broadly as an art form that tells a story (video/audio narratives, animation, short film, skits, dance, etc.). We have a few students who have expressed interest in visual arts as well. So this year, we invited a visual arts educator to join our team. (Our teacher team currently includes a performing arts/dance educator, a visual arts teacher, and a STEAM teacher.)

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 9, 2020 | 11:25 p.m.

    That's fantastic, Megan.  The flexibility you have toward a variety of arts meets the needs of many diverse interests.  I love the teacher team you have.  What are the concepts of the STEM you build in? 

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 11, 2020 | 04:04 p.m.

    Thanks, DeLene. During the first year of our project, students learned about the local effects of climate change (Summer 2018) and water quality and equity (2018-2019 school year). We deemed these issues to be locally relevant and also broad enough for students to find a meaningful connection. Beginning in the summer of 2019, we restructured the program a bit to include a wider array of social justice issues that are not necessarily categorized as science-related (e.g., voting rights and suppression, housing rights). We made this change based on feedback from participating youth and their teachers as well as an interest in connecting with another session in which students engage in our program, the Social Justice sessions. (For a little background, we are part of a larger College Bound program, which includes sessions on College and Career Prep and Social Justice discussion groups, in addition to our Converge sessions). So with this shift, we are able to connect with the social and environmental justice topics that students are learning about in their social justice sessions. In Converge, students bring stories about these issues to life by engaging in science, engineering, coding, and performing arts. In doing so, we are most focused on supporting youths' engagement in STE and arts practices/processes.

  • May 11, 2020 | 05:06 p.m.

    Integrating the arts into STEAM is crucial.  By finding purpose in social justice, it precipitates a flood of ideas for artistic expression in movement, sound, and material, and letting the students use their interests to guide their pursuits. Thank you for doing this work.  

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Megan McKinley-Hicks

    Lead Presenter
    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 12, 2020 | 10:38 a.m.

    Thank you, Michael! Beautifully said. Your project on embodied learning in geometry also sounds fascinating. Embodiment is such an underutilized form of learning.

  • Icon for: Audrey Shor

    Audrey Shor

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2020 | 11:52 a.m.

    I am so happy to learn about this project, art and STEM have always gone hand-in-hand for me; the easiest ways for me to approach this with my students is through expressions of phenotype. Some of this comes in the form of designing the look of progeny based upon inherited genotype, reinforcing inheritance and genotype-phenotype concepts, to modeling and 3D printing wild-type and variant proteins, to explore structure and function relationships. Approaching learning with an art emphasis helps to breakdown walls previously constructed to create the silos that exist between disciplines.

    Your student’s quote suggesting that she could expand her skills in ways that she didn’t know that she could melts my heart and provides the reinforcement I need to keep approach my pedagogy in this manner.

    Thanks for sharing your work and inspiring future creativity in STEM.

  • Icon for: Catherine Wong

    Catherine Wong

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2020 | 06:40 p.m.

    Hi all,Thanks you for sharing your comments with us. We are excited to have provided a student centered, justice focused environment where our urban youth's lived experiences are validated and affirmed through a creative STEAM lens. Central to our work is breaking down the top down approach in favor a of circular model, whereby we are all teachers and learners of our environment. We emphasize the power of the collective, the inspiration of an intergenerational mindset, and the advocacy to be the change agents we want to see in the world. In this way, students remain grounded in their communities, are eager to give back in meaningful ways, and discover how relevant science and the arts are in their lives. I have also been impressed with our students' resilience through COVID-19. As the pandemic has affected all of their lives and our's in distinct ways, some with great loss and heartache, and yet they are intent on gathering virtually and connecting creatively during this time. 

  • Icon for: Eric Hamilton

    Eric Hamilton

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2020 | 07:57 p.m.

    I think this is a fantastic approach.  We try to emphasize integration or convergence of art with STEM - some of our sites do it more successfully than others, and we don't have the same purposefulness that is in your project.  Your emphasis on giving voice to student stories and experience is powerful.  Thank you for developing and sharing this project.

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