MakeITReal, Addressing underachievement in STEAM education through real product design and making practices

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Three-dimensional (3D) practices enter the school classroom with help from the MakeITReal project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. The project is inspired by the global “maker movement” in education, supporting a creative use of technologies in the classroom.

The MakeITReal project aims at engaging school students, aged thirteen to seventeen, who demonstrate low levels of performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and keep their distance from STEM related disciplines. The partners aim at achieving this by coming up with an innovative product design and by creating practices that are inspired by the “maker movement” trend in education (Schon, 2015), which is a global drive that encourages young people to be creative with technology. The product design is based on a practice that integrates various STEM disciplines and can be a creative process that provides links to arts, which is also reflected in industrial practices immersing students in entrepreneurial thinking and business culture.

MakeITReal emphasises teachers’ professional development and aims to support them in developing skills needed to facilitate learning processes, to help students engage in tasks related to product design, to tailor teaching practices to the students’ needs and, finally, to help teachers to design their own engaging activities in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

The problem of underachievement in STEM education is not restricted to any one country. Thus, the project aims to address the problem at the transnational level with the help of an international team of experts. These experts complement one another and propel STEAM education, enhance teachers’ professional roles, re-motivate underachievers and help those learners through innovative and creative activities. These activities are linked to real life to help them perform better in mathematics and other scientific subjects and to develop the skills needed in the European job market of the 21st century.

The partners of MakeITReal argue that 3D printing and design can intensify students’ various literacies and creative capacities. This can help students to realise that STEM subjects open the doors to endless possibilities related to real life.

To achieve this, the project’s partners carry out case studies at secondary schools in Poland, Greece and Turkey. The project started in October 2016 to be implemented over a two-year period.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under the ERASMUS+ Programme 2014, KA2, project number: 2016-1-PL01-KA201-026492. This Web page reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Basic information

Country: Cyprus, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Turkey

Coordinator: Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, https://www.pw.edu.pl/

Programme: Erasmus+

Project Acronym:

Target groups: education authorities, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, vocational school students

Topic: Engineering, Maths, Technology, Education, Other

Start year: 2016

End year: 2018

Url: http://makeitreal.info/

Contact person: Rene Alimisi, Email info (at) edumotiva.eu

The MakeITReal project fits within the category of applied research. In the context of this project, the resources, proposed activities and methodology were piloted in two rounds in three different countries. Those countries were: Greece, Poland and Turkey.

A pre- and post-test was used before and after a MakeITReal learning intervention, in order to make the link between pre-test and post-test answers and to look at possible changes in students' perceptions. Questionnaires were also distributed to the participating teachers and students. Then, focus group discussions were also organised as part of the project.

The MakeITReal curriculum includes a series of interdisciplinary student-based projects dedicated to design thinking through 3D printing processes and other relevant resources for schools. Work with 3D printers at schools has many challenges, such as the limited time allocated in schools for 3D printing and the time it takes students to learn how to use 3D modelling software. The MakeITReal curriculum addresses such challenges in schools, by proposing a programme of projects that guide the learner step by step towards a more open-ended and exploratory type of student work. The MakeITReal pedagogical model aims at developing students’ skills through making and constructing. In each project of the curriculum, students are guided through the design steps. which include:

  • understanding the challenge,
  • brainstorming,
  • sketching,
  • building and testing,
  • evaluating,
  • improving and redesigning.

This curriculum is available online at: http://makeitreal.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/O2_TheMakeitrealCurriculum-2016-1-PL01-KA201-026492.pdf

The ten projects of MakeITReal are also available for download as stand-alone files, together with tutorials, guidelines for teachers, descriptions for students and videos at: http://makeitreal.info/?page_id=286

An online class with additional materials is also available for those who are interested at: http://makeitreal.info/?page_id=191

A technical reference guide is also available for teachers at: http://makeitreal.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/MakeITreal-Technical-Reference-Guide-1.pdf

The MakeITReal technical reference guide provides technical information on Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D printing and complements the MakeITReal learning intervention. The reference guide presents all the technical issues and practicalities that teachers should take into consideration when using tools for digital fabrication, 3D modelling and 3D printing technologies in classrooms.

Lastly, a MakeITReal pilot protocol is available at: http://makeitreal.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/O3-PilotProtocol-2016-1-PL01-KA201-026492.pdf

The pilot protocol provides detailed information on how teachers are supposed to work with students and apply the MakeITReal learning intervention in their classes from a pedagogical perspective. In addition, the pilot protocol provides good practice activities that can be implemented in classes. The tools used to monitor the learning interventions, document feedback, and collect feedback from students and teachers, in order to evaluate the learning intervention, are also described in this document. This report is addressed mainly to the teachers who are implementing the MakeITReal learning intervention in the class, but also to other teachers, educators, educational practitioners and makers who are interested in 3D modelling and printing practices in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education and in applying similar learning interventions in their schools to boost students’ interest in STEAM.

Visit also the MakeITReal video gallery at: http://makeitreal.info/?page_id=505

The video gallery contains short videos that can be used to introduce the topic of 3D technologies in a classroom and to engage students in relevant discussions about 3D printable prosthetics, mixed media techniques, CAD, 3D scanning and more.

 

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