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Designing for Connection

Designing for Connection

Facilitating Computational Tinkering Project

Facilitating Computational Tinkering (FCT) is an Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) NSF project focusing on creating strategies to make computationally-rich tinkering projects equitable and inclusive. Alongside our project partners at CU Boulder and MIT, we focus on the role of facilitators in community-based settings to support meaningful and joyful tinkering with technology. Through FCT, we developed interventions to introduce computation into Making Faces.

Making Faces is a tinkering experience that invites you to make a self portrait using objects of significance that with your own identity. It was inspired by Hanoch Piven, an artist and maker who creates whimsical, inspiring, and meaningful faces out of everyday objects.

What does equitable facilitation mean to us?

  • Create to connect: We are not making things for the sake of 'making'; rather, we are engaging in the experience of creating in order to connect with one another, to the ideas, and to the materials.
  • All are co-learners, including facilitators: We don’t want to be seen as experts or figures of authority. Tinkering doesn’t require expert knowledge. In fact, it is important to have a beginner’s mindset and to be co-learners along with each other.
  • Honor participants: We honor participants’ backgrounds, histories, and interests. including where they come from, how they're connected, and what they value.
  • Process over product: Tinkering is process-driven and there is always more that you can do. It is important to emphasize that it is about a process and not necessarily about “finishing.”
  • The big idea is their idea: We design experiences in which learners can have their own big idea, find something they're excited about, and then drive their experience forward, rather than us telling them what the experience is.

We wrote up our takeaways for how to design for connection in collaboration with our CU Boulder partners.

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This project is made possible through the generous support of: