Doctoral candidate Noah Samuel presented research on makerspace education at FabLearn 2020, which was held virtually from October 9-11. FabLearn brings together researchers, educators, and policymakers to discuss the maker culture and share best practices in digital fabrication in education, hands-on learning, and instructional tools. The theme of this year's conference was "Making as Resistance and Resilience."
Samuel and Chung Lee (Vanderbilt University Medical Center) presented the paper, "Understanding Instructional Challenges and Approaches to Including Middle School Students with Disabilities in Makerspace Activities: A Cross-Case Analysis," which they coauthored with Maya Israel, University of Florida; Michele Perry, Perry and Associates; Heather Arnett (MS '18); Lisa Bievenue, director of informatics programs at the iSchool; and Jeff Ginger (PhD '15), iSchool adjunct lecturer. In this analysis, the researchers investigated the accessibility of makerspace experiences for middle school students with disabilities. They collaborated with middle school teachers who incorporated maker activities into their STEM or science classes. While these teachers reported multiple challenges faced by the learners, the researchers found evidence of students with disabilities "meaningfully participating in maker activities." This research is part of Project MAPLE, which was funded through the National Science Foundation's Discovery Research K-12 program and sought to understand barriers to STEM learning in public school makerspace classrooms.
Samuel's research explores how people innovate with technology in a community setting, the potential for entrepreneurial development in local maker labs, business incubators, and lessons that can be learned from these spaces. He earned his master's degree in information science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.