The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded NOVA a three-year grant, set to begin in September 2021, to establish a Professional Learning program in design thinking pedagogy for secondary and postsecondary educators. Makers By Design (MBD) as we call it, is officially titled: Supporting Instructors to Embed Design Thinking in Digital Fabrication Courses.
Makers By Design Overview:
> Manufacturing and engineering technologies industries are facing a looming skills gap.
> Employers identify increasing need for soft skills (critical and design thinking, problem solving and communication) as manufacturing transitions to high-tech.
> There is a need to align engineering and engineering technology with industry defined technical and soft skills.
> MBD is a professional learning (PL) program for secondary and postsecondary educators focused on developing design thinking pedagogy through digital fabrication (e.g. 3D printing, laser engraving, CNC) techniques.
> Aligned with NSF includes broadening participation in STEM for underrepresented minorities.
> MBD will foster a community of practice between teachers, faculty, makerspace educators and industry.
The curriculum will focus on design thinking projects that involve digital fabrication techniques, including 3D printing, laser engraving, and Computer Numerical Control milling. The Professional Learning program is expected to improve the educator’ teaching practices and enable them to update existing curricula and lesson plans to better align with industry relevant skills and techniques. The project also intends to create a community of practice around design thinking in digital fabrication that will build a beneficial network among secondary teachers, community college faculty, makerspace educators, and regional employers. It is expected that the project will support 36 secondary and postsecondary educators who will teach more than 3,000 K-12 and undergraduate students in the northern Virginia region. These students will have greater interest in and be better prepared for technical careers in manufacturing and engineering.
The overarching goal of the project is to use Professional Learning to move digital fabrication instruction beyond the reproduction of simple objects. Instead, the project will train educators to use pedagogy and cognitive strategies to embed design thinking into their digital fabrication lessons and courses. As a result, students will learn to use design thinking to build complex, useful objects.
The project’s specific aims include to: (1) create a professional learning institute; (2) host digital fabrication summer camps at NOVA and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington; (3) host a semiannual design and digital fabrication challenge; and (4) establish an online resource library of projects and lesson plans created and refined by educators in the community of practice. The project is expected to advance: understanding of the pedagogies that help to develop student interest in manufacturing and engineering; the capacity for Professional Learning to facilitate integration of design thinking into classrooms and makerspaces; and the extent to which a capstone design challenge may foster sustainable change in instructional practices. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.
The NOVA Fab Lab has a Makerspace utilized by many NOVA programs and the community as well as a new Makers Program for college students coming up this fall
Check out the NOVA Fab Lab Page