Assisting children learning to work with new tools in the Exploratorium Afterschool program
As science programs expand into afterschool settings, many are excited to include tinkering and STEM learning. The California Tinkering Afterschool Network (CTAN) formed to study and design learning experiences that would support STEM-rich, equity-oriented tinkering in afterschool programs.
In the afterschool setting, where there is time for sustained engagement during longer periods of time, tinkering can be intentionally designed and facilitated to build on youth knowledge and prior interests.
CTAN’s research found that tinkering in afterschool can make STEM more accessible to youth from low-income, historically marginalized communities when it is facilitated to meet the following equity-oriented criteria:
builds generous learning environments that emphasize shared activity, process, and iteration;
cultivates play and creativity;
widens definitions of intelligence and science; and
treats learning as a purposeful and social endeavor.
CTAN’s findings have served as a springboard to develop equity-oriented professional development resources for educators interested in improving their practice.