Throughout the process of collaborating with three library systems, we’ve learned a lot about researcher-practitioner partnerships. I’m constantly amazed by the dedication of the librarians who are participating in the research. They’ve participated in hands-on professional development experiences, recruited participants, collected data, brainstormed with the research team, expanded the curriculum, and increased their own computational thinking skills! Below are pictures that highlight how the librarians have challenged themselves to learn alongside the girls participating in the Learning in Libraries: CompuGirls program.
Guest post from Syeda Mahmood, undergraduate research assistant:
My role as an undergraduate research assistant included creating activities which would incorporate computational thinking skills, circuitry, and arts & crafts. At the end of every lesson, the girls would have a variety of colored paper, stencils, felt, etc to be creative and create something that not only highlighted their circuitry knowledge and computational skills, but their identity as well. It was incredible seeings girls grow more curious about circuitry through the course of the summer and see how each of them uniquely incorporated what they learned into their expressive art pieces! Another fun part of the camp was when the girls went to MakerWorks, where we learned to use Arduino to control things like turning on and off a little fan. Here, the girls displayed great interest in being challenged and were able to answer the instructor’s questions about circuitry. At the end of our session, we were given a tour around the entire maker-space! All in all, it was wonderful to see girls excel and enjoy the camp.
Guest post from Tori Culler, the graduate student research assistant who worked on the project this summer:
As a masters student research intern this summer, I’ve been looking at how girls’ participation in the CompuGirls program contributes to their perceptions of self-efficacy, which is defined as the belief in one’s ability to successfully accomplish a task. I think the most striking example of girl’s self-efficacy expansion I observed occurred at the Ypsilanti District Library in an activity where the girls used soldering to add circuitry and blinking LEDs to a 3d printed bracelet. Soldering is the process by which you use an extremely hot metal implement to weld two pieces of metal together. It’s no joke. The girls were intimidated at first and I certainly can’t blame them — so was I! But as they gained exposure to the tools and began soldering on their own under the safety and supervision of experienced teachers, they really took to the activity and each one of them successfully finished a bracelet. Their confidence and feelings of self-efficacy soared, with many of them reporting that learning to solder was the highlight of their day and several going on to make additional projects using soldering in the final days of the camp.
A brand new makerspace called TinkerTech has opened up directly across the street from the Ypsilanti District Library! The librarians and girls walked over and participated in an Arduino workshop. We believe that designing learning spaces that act as counterspaces requires challenging traditional student/teacher boundaries and power dynamics. One way to do this is to encourage teachers to learn alongside the students. It was so much fun watching the librarians learn how to use Arduinos alongside the girls. Both the librarians and the girls walked away with new skills!