Shannon Dosemagen: I am real­ly hap­py to intro­duce Dr. Nettrice Gaskins. She is join­ing us as part of an inclu­sive speak­er series and will be dis­cussing techno-vernacular cre­ativ­i­ty in STEAM. For those of you who are new to the term STEAM, it’s going to be talked about a lot today. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. 

Dr. Gaskins is the Boston Arts Academy STEAM Lab direc­tor, and notably the Academy is the only pub­lic high school in Boston for visu­al and per­form­ing arts. Dr. Gaskins earned a BFA in Computer Graphics with hon­ors from Pratt Institute in 1992, and an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 94. She worked for sev­er­al years in K‑12 and post-secondary education,community media, and tech­nol­o­gy before enrolling at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received a Doctorate in Digital Media in 2014.

Dr. Gaskins’ mod­el for techno-vernacular cre­ativ­i­ty is an area of prac­tice that inves­ti­gates the char­ac­ter­is­tics of cul­tur­al art and tech­nol­o­gy made by under­rep­re­sent­ed eth­nic groups for their own enter­tain­ment and cre­ative expres­sion and its appli­ca­tion in STEAM learn­ing. Her essays are includ­ed in edit­ed vol­umes such as Meet Me at the Fair: A World’s Fair Reader, Future Texts, and Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness, which…came out today. So look for it at your local bookstore.

I’m very hap­py to turn the mic over to Dr. Gaskins.

Nettrice Gaskins: Thank you.

I’m going to get start­ed and just say good after­noon and talk a lit­tle bit about how I came to STEAM, and then what kind of work I’m doing currently.

Techno-vernacular Creativity, Innovation & Learning” was kind of the title of my dis­ser­ta­tion, and I’m going to talk about how it came to that and then how I found STEAM on the way, through that process.

If peo­ple are famil­iar with ver­nac­u­lar, which I’m sure you are, peo­ple in the audi­ence out­side of this room may not be. It’s basi­cal­ly native lan­guage or dialect of a spe­cif­ic pop­u­la­tion as opposed to a wider, dom­i­nant, or main­stream com­mu­ni­ca­tion. So ver­nac­u­lar could be lan­guage but it could also be visu­al lan­guage, it can be spo­ken lan­guage, or oth­er types of ways of communication.

So in 2011, I was pret­ty sure that there was a link between graf­fi­ti and math. I don’t know how I came to that. Actually, I was doing some inter­views of graf­fi­ti artists, and lis­ten­ing to inter­views of graf­fi­ti at the begin­ning of my dis­ser­ta­tion stud­ies, and real­ized that a lot of the graf­fi­ti artists I was pay­ing atten­tion to were talk­ing a lot about sci­ence and math, and not mak­ing that con­nec­tion. So I went to some peo­ple and said I think there’s a link between graf­fi­ti and math, and was told, No no, there isn’t.” So my advi­sor said, You’re prob­a­bly right, but you need to find some­one who’s done the work.”

So I made a guess and con­tact­ed Ron Eglash over at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and he was like, Oh. Yeah, we devel­oped soft­ware that’s called Graffiti Grapher. It’s online. It’s free for edu­ca­tors.” They had a bunch of oth­er tools that are based on cul­tur­al art, and they’re basi­cal­ly teach­ing com­put­er pro­gram­ming on a very basic lev­el and/or math­e­mat­ics, or both. So these tools were just there since 2006 or what­ev­er, and one of them was graf­fi­ti and math. And there was a lot of back­ground about how that con­nect­ed to math­e­mat­ics, look­ing at coor­di­nates and things like that.

But my inter­est in graf­fi­ti goes way back to when I was a high school stu­dent, and maybe even before that. So being able to con­nect it in such a way was a great thing because that’s when I heard about STEAM, around the same few months of time.

Techno-vernacular (the tech­no” part being tech­no­log­i­cal or tech­nol­o­gy), is sort of look­ing at cul­tur­al art and tech­nol­o­gy made by under­rep­re­sent­ed eth­nic groups. So indige­nous, African, and Latino dias­po­ras for their own enter­tain­ment or cre­ative expres­sion. So it’s less about the def­i­n­i­tion and more about how peo­ple find mean­ing in math. Or how they find mean­ing in sci­ence. How they find mean­ing in an art and oth­er things. And how they sort of com­mu­ni­cate. The look, the style, the expres­sion that’s asso­ci­at­ed with a par­tic­u­lar group, time, place, or event.

So I was like let’s look at this as a frame­work. Reappropriation was some­thing I looked at, impro­vi­sa­tion, con­cep­tu­al remix­ing as it relat­ed to techno-vernacular cre­ativ­i­ty. And so through reap­pro­pri­a­tion you rede­ploy mate­r­i­al. I’ll give some exam­ples of that in a sec­ond. Improvisation, which is huge, is sort of recon­ceiv­ing tech­nol­o­gy that trans­gress­es the tech­nol­o­gy’s designed func­tion and mean­ing. And then remix­ing is the redesign­ing or pro­duc­ing new mate­r­i­al arti­facts after the exist­ing form or func­tion has been reject­ed. So look­ing at schol­ars who were in sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy stud­ies and some in engi­neer­ing, and how they were look­ing at these groups and how they were engag­ing with tech­nol­o­gy and science.

The idea of con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing or plac­ing some­thing in a new or dif­fer­ent con­text, syn­the­siz­ing, see­ing rela­tion­ships between seem­ing­ly unre­lat­ed areas and then syn­cretiz­ing or invent­ing new things by com­bin­ing ele­ments nobody thought to put togeth­er was some­thing that I found kept com­ing up when I was look­ing at some examples.

This is reap­pro­pri­a­tion. This is lowrid­er car cul­ture, out of Chicano cul­ture. There’s a film called Underwater Dreams which is about a high school group out of Arizona [who] in 2006, I believe, beat MIT at an under­wa­ter robot­ics com­pe­ti­tion. They were most­ly Hispanic stu­dents, first gen­er­a­tion, and beat them both in the pre­sen­ta­tion and in the actu­al robot itself.

But in the film, and also when I went to hear one of the peo­ple that won talk about it a year and a half ago, he start­ed talk­ing about hid­den switch­es. And that is ver­nac­u­lar used when you’re doing lowrid­er cars. They used lowrid­er car cul­ture to sort of get into robot­ics. So we talk about a ver­nac­u­lar, in this case lowrid­er cars and car cul­ture, and then we talk about robot­ics. And then this is the way into robot­ics for a lot of groups, through this culture.

A young man sitting on the floor surrounded by dismantled electronics

This is Kelvin Doe. He is from Sierra Leone. He was brought by MIT a few years ago. He’s also known as DJ Focus. He’s a self-taught engi­neer. He want­ed to be a DJ, have a stu­dio. They did­n’t have the resources. So he went and found junk and put things togeth­er and cre­at­ed his own stuff. So in a place where there aren’t any resources, you find young peo­ple like Kelvin who are self-taught and began to do the kinds of things you might find in and engi­neer­ing space or hack­er space or mak­er space. This idea of impro­vis­ing or invent­ing through use of mate­ri­als is some­thing that is pret­ty preva­lent in under­rep­re­sent­ed eth­nic groups.

Then Kelvin being a DJ remind­ed me of this guy. This is Grandmaster Flash, who’s cred­it­ed with the inven­tion of the first cross­fad­er, or audio mix­er. He reclaimed parts from a junk­yard, he began to cre­ate some­thing now that most DJs use around the world, and is now at the Smithsonian. But once upon a time, he was a teenag­er in the Bronx. Didn’t have any mon­ey. And in his moth­er’s kitchen invent­ed some­thing that’s now at the Smithsonian.

This is years ago in the 1970s, and Kelvin is more recent, but we find that this hap­pens over and over again in groups that aren’t part of a lot of dis­course around sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math, but they’re doing these things any­way as part of their every­day life or their cre­ative expression.

I want to look at this chart. This is fair­ly recent, the last cou­ple of years. This is from the National Science Foundation, and this is look­ing at sci­en­tists and engi­neers work­ing in sci­ence and engi­neer­ing occu­pa­tions. The chart kind of speaks for itself. We can take a look at where some of the under­rep­re­sent­ed eth­nic groups are in terms of per­cent­ages. So, black men is 3%. Black women is 2%. Hispanic men, 4%. Hispanic women, 2%. And oth­er would be indige­nous groups and oth­er groups. So you can see that this is their par­tic­i­pa­tion in sci­ence and engi­neer­ing more recent­ly. And this includes, if you go to the NSF web site in the study for this, peo­ple from those groups who actu­al­ly go and major in these areas. They do not go into STEM. So it’s not just get­ting into STEM, but when they actu­al­ly have the major they don’t go into STEM. So we look at stuff like this and then we see the kind of things that I’ve been talk­ing about and real­ize that there’s a dis­con­nect between the two things happening.

So after I start­ed work­ing with Ron and RPI, I start­ed look­ing at his mod­el for culturally-situated design. So con­nect­ing cul­tur­al art and standards-based STEM prin­ci­ples; art-based learn­ing, which stim­u­lates the devel­op­ment of 21st cen­tu­ry skills and cre­ativ­i­ty and inquiry; and edu­ca­tion­al appli­ca­tions of new tech­nolo­gies that can be used as new open­ings for learn­ing. And I start­ed look­ing at how to map this into a way to devel­op cur­ricu­lum and to make projects.

There you can see the culturally-situated design tool we were work­ing with was very sim­i­lar to MIT’s Scratch, where you are able to stack blocks and sort of cre­ate designs or sim­u­la­tions based on cul­tur­al art forms. So that’s math and com­put­er sci­ence. And then also there’s mean­ing itself in the art­work, so the star—this is a Native American star quilt design. The math­e­mat­i­cal star or morn­ing star. We also have artists who look at this as a design in con­tem­po­rary art and how it relates to engi­neer­ing and the rest of the STEM areas. So just real­ly try­ing to find ways to merge the art, show them art on an equal lev­el with STEM.

Also, tucked away up there is afro­fu­tur­ism, because a lot of the artists that I was look­ing at are in that sort of way of—I’ll define afro­fu­tur­ism as a way of com­bin­ing the past, present, and future and real­ly sort of look­ing at ways in which peo­ple, the African dias­po­ra, how they are in the future as opposed to stereo­typ­i­cal roles or stereo­typ­i­cal things that they’re plagued with in the present or in the past.

After think­ing about Kelvin Doe, Grandmaster Flash. DJing, VJing, break­danc­ing, oth­er types of forms that I define as techno-vernacular, I cre­at­ed a tax­on­o­my to con­tex­tu­al­ize or look at how we would assess learn­ing. So this is my tax­on­o­my for techno-vernacular cre­ativ­i­ty. What this allowed me to do was begin to look at how this might con­nect to some of the STEM prin­ci­ples I was talk­ing to Ron and oth­ers about. So dia­gram­ming, map­ping, repeat­ing, loop­ing, replay­ing. The pat­terns, beats, rhythms, mea­sure. Things that we can look at that we can say this is a domain that we can look at to assess. And then trans­lat­ing all that into an actu­al design rubric for assessment.

So we’re look­ing at dia­gram­ming, giv­en a sam­ple or script. And I was look­ing at extent, depth, breadth, and mas­tery as areas to assess as well. So how much did they mas­ter this? One of the things I found out is that the more mas­tery you have the more impro­vi­sa­tion you have. And I’ll talk about that in a second.

Extent is designed to cap­ture par­tic­i­pants’ under­stand­ing of a tool. breadth is mea­sur­ing changes in a num­ber of con­cep­tu­al cat­e­gories an indi­vid­ual uses to describe a task. Depth is the con­cep­tu­al under­stand­ing that they have. And mas­tery gauges where the par­tic­i­pant falls along a con­tin­u­um from novice to expert.

After I did all that, I did some work­shops in Atlanta, because I was at Georgia Tech, and dis­cov­ered by bring­ing in cul­tur­al art and bring­ing in tech­nol­o­gy, this was a way to engage young peo­ple, in this case mid­dle school stu­dents, most­ly African-American, in STEM. I assessed it, and assessed basi­cal­ly, with­out get­ting into all that, which I don’t have time to do, it did show that there was an increase in engage­ment and inter­est and moti­va­tion in STEM, based on the activ­i­ties in these work­shops that were also arts-based.

Then I got offered this job in Boston Arts Academy and I wrapped up my dis­ser­ta­tion suc­cess­ful­ly, and start­ed doing work here local­ly at Boston Arts Academy.

After a year, so a year and half I’ve been here, I start­ed to think about how STEAM (I’m look­ing at STEAM very broad­ly) would hap­pen with­in an arts acad­e­my, but also with­in a tra­di­tion­al Common Core or standards-based cur­ricu­lum. So con­duct­ing work­shops based on these kinds of mod­ules would get us to a point where we could assess whether or not the stu­dents are more engaged, more moti­vat­ed, or more inter­est­ed. And Boston Arts Academy is 40% African-American, 40% Latino, and the the rest White and Asian and so on. So 80% African-American and Latino, from all dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods of Boston.

I thought about this in an eight-week sit­u­a­tion where we talk about fun­da­men­tals, we’re talk­ing about elec­tric­i­ty, or visu­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, or some sort of fun­da­men­tal vocab­u­lary that young peo­ple would need to know, stu­dents would need to know. Then we talk about design­ing, we’re talk­ing about fab­ri­cat­ing, pro­to­typ­ing, and then pro­gram­ming and so on. These are artists, these are stu­dents who a lot of them are going to go into the arts. But they could also bring with them a lot of the skills that they’re learn­ing in their STEM class­es as well. So the idea of immers­ing them in a sort of STEAM expe­ri­ence is a way to help them build skills they need for their jobs or for school, and doing that in a way that isn’t sep­a­rate from art at all, but that helps them work in dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties in terms of what they’re doing. I’ll give some examples.

A young girl dancing, her feet on large sheets of paper with what resemble circuit markings on them

This is a dance stu­dent, and her and two oth­er stu­dents were in a sci­ence class. They were giv­en an extra cred­it project, and they came to me and said, Oh, we like this kin­da touch­board thing you showed us, this kind of small com­put­er you showed us that makes music. So we want to know, is there a way we can make a dance floor that when we dance on it it makes music.” What you see her doing here (this is a STEAM fair at Boston Arts Academy) is her and her peers use con­duc­tive paint on paper to cre­ate a cir­cuit that when she dances on makes music. So you can see the lap­top and then there’s a touch­board on it and when she dances there’s music there. So the idea of com­bin­ing art (in this case dance per­for­mance) and elec­tron­ics and engi­neer­ing, and a lit­tle bit of cod­ing, is some­thing that was ear­ly on in the STEAM lab when made it for the students.

This is using con­duc­tive paint again and touch­boards, but this is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy unit, part of engi­neer­ing class. These are, I believe tenth graders. And that’s Hank Shocklee who is one of the archi­tects for Public Enemy, who just got induct­ed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who came up to meet with the stu­dents pre­sent­ing their instru­ments that they made with con­duc­tive paint and paper and elec­tron­ics to Hank, who was very much into instru­ments and music. This hap­pened Spring of last year.

This is this past Fall, where we start­ed look­ing at a con­cept called tenseg­ri­ty, ten­sion integri­ty, which is Buckmister Fuller’s con­cept, and how using in this case chop­sticks and latex tub­ing they could cre­ate struc­tures that were based on graph­ic and lin­ear func­tions in math. They also tie this into robot­ics because NASA’s using a lot of this type of tech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate robots they can drop on Mars that are in the cen­ter of these struc­tures. So here we have a math/sculpture type of mix hap­pen­ing. You can see the sci­ence teacher in the back and the stu­dents doing a hands-on thing in a STEAM lab.

This is last week. This is in the Black Box Theatre at Boston Art Academy, and this is a stu­dent who is learn­ing how to do video pro­jec­tion map­ping. A video pro­jec­tion map­ping is basi­cal­ly map­ping mul­ti­ple pro­jec­tions on dif­fer­ent sur­faces at the same time. So this is for a the­ater pro­duc­tion that hap­pened this past week that was basi­cal­ly a play that twenty-three high schools had been select­ed to do in the next six months, and we’re the on high school using video pro­jec­tion map­ping, which is a com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing skill. We’re also using Leap Motion con­trollers, which are sen­sors based on hand move­ment, and using oth­er types of tech­nolo­gies that we map graph­i­cal­ly on to walls. So the stu­dent is the­ater, but the stu­den­t’s the­ater plus tech­nol­o­gy plus pro­gram­ming plus…and so on.

So this idea of com­bin­ing or work­ing in dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties through the arts, through sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math is some­thing that we’re real­ly look­ing to make prac­ti­cal for stu­dents as opposed to just with­in a class­room, also the world.

I could talk to oth­er projects, but I know that peo­ple might have some ques­tions. There are some terms maybe you’ve nev­er heard before. Maybe you have some ques­tions about STEAM. But I want to open it up and maybe throw it back to the mod­er­a­tor as well.

Audience 1: Thank you for this fas­ci­nat­ing talk. It’s very inspir­ing to see the work you are doing with youth, espe­cial­ly minor­i­ty and diverse youth. I won­der if you can talk more about the path­ways and the tra­jec­to­ries that these young cre­ative work­ers and learn­ers are doing after being engaged in the STEAM Lab, because they’re devel­op­ing all these kinds of skills, mak­ing the con­nec­tions between their own cul­ture and engi­neer­ing. But how do they nav­i­gate the world after the Lab, or the world after high school, and how can they con­nect with job oppor­tu­ni­ties or com­mu­ni­ties in their cities or in their state?

Nettrice Gaskins: The Lab’s only a year old, so the stu­dents have only had access to it for a very short peri­od of time. And one of the things that is very interesting—an anec­dote I give about this par­tic­u­lar stu­dent is very inter­est­ing because the stu­dent was­n’t doing well aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly. But he’s very good at video games, and very pas­sion­ate about video games. As it turns out, video pro­jec­tion map­ping is very sim­i­lar to the kind of games he plays on PlayStation 4, where he has mul­ti­ple screens up at the same time, with oth­er play­ers. So the idea of work­ing with­in that kind of modal­i­ty is some­thing for this par­tic­u­lar stu­dent, he’s already doing every day, or would like to do every day.

The idea that you can tie in pro­gram­ming or tie it into a the­ater con­text is adding a lay­er of mean­ing and skills that that stu­dent may nev­er have antic­i­pat­ed until last week. And as a result of this a‑ha moment, he will now be able, along with oth­er stu­dents, to incor­po­rate this into what they’re doing in the­ater pro­duc­tion. And of course, he’s sort of in the same modal­i­ty that he usu­al­ly is in with video game playing.

Now, lat­er on since he’s a sopho­more, he can begin look­ing at more spe­cif­ic skills that will help him advance this type of inter­est. So if he want­ed to go into more of a com­put­er pro­gram­ming aspect of the­ater pro­duc­tion, he could do that. If he want­ed more on this idea of mul­ti­ple screens and work­ing with a pro­gram­mer, he would be able to do that and have that skill set already.

But it real­ly is kind of, now we see where these kids are com­ing in and where they con­nect. Then we can begin to make this more real and more prac­ti­cal for them as we go along. So the dancer who wants to use con­duc­tive paint and use elec­tron­ics to enhance their dance per­for­mance. They may not do that every sin­gle time, or they may do this in par­tic­u­lar ways, but the idea that they now have these tools enables them to be able to take it to the next lev­el when they’re ready. So, I don’t know if that answered your ques­tion but, for now.

Audience 2: I’m just curi­ous. To facil­i­tate these kids’ tran­si­tion to ter­tiary edu­ca­tion and to jobs, which is the ques­tion that was just posed, have you con­sid­ered a pro­gram of intern­ships where they could devel­op these skills sup­port­ed by cre­ative peo­ple, old­er cre­ative peo­ple in the arts?

Gaskins: There’s already intern­ship pro­grams in place. There’s sum­mer pro­gram­ming as well. So I think, we have a lot of video game design com­pa­nies in Cambridge, so I’m sure there’s oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage on that lev­el as well. 

And one of the things I want­ed to say is not that these young peo­ple aren’t inter­est­ed in these activ­i­ties, it’s that they don’t see them­selves or see peo­ple like them doing it. The rea­son why I am com­fort­able pro­gram­ming is because my moth­er was a com­put­er pro­gram­mer. I did­n’t like com­put­er pro­gram­ming until my senior year of high school. So I actu­al­ly did­n’t do any pro­gram­ming until much lat­er in my teen years, part­ly because my art teacher decid­ed to teach com­put­er graph­ics and con­vince me after sev­er­al attempts to get me to take her first com­put­er graph­ics class, which then led to me major­ing in com­put­er graph­ics in college. 

It’s a very short peri­od of turn­around time, when you think about it. So I’m a junior in high school in visu­al arts, and then major­ing in com­put­er graph­ics a year and a half lat­er. There’s a port­fo­lio you have to make, so there’s a lot of work the teacher and the stu­dents have to go through. The oppor­tu­ni­ties that the teacher hoped would hap­pen, she was­n’t entire­ly sure what would hap­pen when we began. So com­pe­ti­tions began to hap­pen and the National Science Foundation actu­al­ly had a com­pe­ti­tion for art and sci­ence back then, and my com­put­er graph­ics work won a prize.

These were all incen­tives to con­tin­ue in that direc­tion. I did not antic­i­pate that I would go into com­put­er pro­gram­ming until I got to Pratt and then I felt like they had kind of snuck that in on me. So this is the stuff my moth­er does, not me, I’m an artist. But then I have to do this as part of the require­ment for the major. So a lot of this is build­ing a blue­print as you go along. You have to first fig­ure out what it is, what modal­i­ties young peo­ple are com­fort­able in, and what they feel they’re pas­sion­ate about. What is not just cul­tur­al­ly rel­e­vant or respon­sive, but what is per­son­al­ly rel­e­vant and respon­sive. What makes sense to them and what they do in their day to day.

Then you con­nect that to the world that’s for­eign to them, that’s out­side, that’s main­stream and dom­i­nant, where they’re not reflect­ed. And I think then you begin to sort of hash out the kinds of activ­i­ties out­side of school that they can get involved in. They might be entre­pre­neur­ial, or they might be with­in an exist­ing busi­ness or company.

Audience 3: I don’t have a ques­tion, but I have a rec­om­men­da­tion. I know you’re inter­est­ed in afro­fu­tur­ism and space and sci­ence fic­tion. There’s a pro­gram at MIT for stu­dents. It’s part of the AeroAstro depart­ment. It’s called Zero Robotics, where the kids have to learn how to pro­gram, and they upload their code to the International Space Station. And we watched dur­ing the finals, the astro­nauts while they’re not flip­ping around and hav­ing fun, they have to use these actu­al artis­tic SPHERES (that’s the acronym) to have com­pe­ti­tions. There are like nine states, and I think they’re doing it over­seas as well. And it’s great to see Texas vs. Florida, DC/Maryland vs. Massachusetts. But it’s an artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their code. So you might want to get your kids involved in that. I’d be hap­py to let you know.

Gaskins: Thanks for remind­ing me. We actu­al­ly met with the new Deputy Director at NASA. About a month ago we had lunch. Me and one of my stu­dents had lunch with her and her assis­tant. We talked about some of the things in terms of their Journey to Mars project. Obama ear­li­er this year decid­ed that by 2036, peo­ple will actu­al­ly be on Mars, as opposed to dri­ving by Mars, or get­ting close to Mars, or drop­ping robots on Mars. So this is a new ini­tia­tive and Dava Newman was here, and she did her lec­ture at the Museum of Fine Arts. Then we had this lunch and I start­ed talk­ing about ideas that I was having. 

Then I found out, as it relates to the arts part, that the Voyager 1 space probe gath­ers data on plas­ma waves and then they have been con­vert­ing that to music, or to sounds. So we have stu­dents who com­pose music. So what hap­pens when we begin lay­er­ing in data from the plas­ma wave probe that could actu­al­ly get them involved with this Journey to Mars project. And then my stu­dent has his own vision of an inter­face that’s not based on touch but based on prox­im­i­ty and pro­jec­tion. But he was able to pitch to the Deputy Director of NASA, and folks. So this idea of a visu­al arts stu­dent being able to do that was a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for him and for us as well.

Audience 4: The sto­ries are real­ly inter­est­ing. I like see­ing the con­nec­tions. How do we scale this? Are there pro­grams that you can drop into a school or to train a teacher? What do we do to have this reach more peo­ple, not just the best, but the aver­age who have these inter­ests and are mak­ing these connections?

Gaskins: I think that in addi­tion to ini­tia­tives like Journey to Mars, there needs to be more of a focus on com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing and teacher train­ing pri­or to them hit­ting the class­room, and then also as pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment. I think it’s a modal­i­ty, it’s a way of engag­ing with mate­r­i­al. And I think it also helps—it leads to com­put­er pro­gram­ming, of course. But it also leads into some of these oth­er things such as con­duc­tive paint and touch­boards and cod­ing. But I think it also is a way of think­ing about how you struc­ture activ­i­ties as well. Some of the STEAM pro­grams I’ve been read­ing about have real­ly focused on com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing, and I think we need to just sort of say what that is and then cre­ate some­thing that is able to go into an edu­ca­tion­al place and train teach­ers on. But it does­n’t exist yet in a lot of pro­grams for prepar­ing teach­ers for schools.

I think that’s a first step. I also think the cul­tur­al piece is miss­ing. So I think the part that engages stu­dents that are from under­rep­re­sent­ed eth­nic groups is miss­ing. I think they don’t see them­selves reflect­ed, don’t see their inter­ests or their cul­tures reflect­ed, so they stay out­side of it even if it’s free, or even if it’s some­thing that is in their neigh­bor­hood. It just is a hard­er sell for a lot of young peo­ple who just can’t see them­selves in STEM or STEAM. So begin­ning to incor­po­rate those types of modal­i­ties and expe­ri­ences and mak­ing it respon­sive to cul­ture, respon­sive to inter­est, is anoth­er step that needs to hap­pen more in a broad­er fashion.

Audience 5: Sort of as a follow-up to that ques­tion, can you talk a lit­tle bit more about how the pro­gram ani­mates across the cur­ricu­lum at Boston Arts Academy? Is it a dis­crete course that stu­dents are tak­ing or a sort of drop-in lab? Is it a resource for teach­ers or is it sort of all of the above? So how does it work?

Gaskins: All of the above. So you have the tenseg­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion with math class­es. So math class­es came down, tenth graders, and did a tenseg­ri­ty activ­i­ty with an artist. But obvi­ous­ly you could take that into dif­fer­ent direc­tions, if you’d like, includ­ing sci­ence. Also, the idea of think­ing and work­ing in dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties for peo­ple who don’t do that is a chal­lenge. If you’re a sci­ence teacher and sci­ence is your exper­tise, and you’ve nev­er made art and art is not your exper­tise, it’s real­ly hard when you’re plan­ning to fig­ure out how to incor­po­rate that, or how to incor­po­rate com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing and cod­ing and pro­gram­ming. And the same for math, and even for art. If you’re an art per­son and haven’t real­ly thought about deep engage­ment in sci­ence— So, we do have art sci­ence activ­i­ties hap­pen­ing at Boston Arts Academy where sci­en­tists are work­ing with artists, and they’re work­ing with young peo­ple in the class­room. So some­times that one per­son, it may be mul­ti­ple peo­ple. So you have an artist and a sci­en­tist will­ing to work togeth­er, or work across dis­ci­plines in order for that to happen.

Audience 6: Thank you so much for the talk. I guess I was curi­ous about…well, first of all thank you for the fact that you’re giv­ing lan­guage to things that are already going on in com­mu­ni­ties. So like with the hid­den switch­es that are going on in Latino com­mu­ni­ties, or what­ev­er the case may be. So I was curi­ous did you run into road­blocks as you devel­oped your tax­on­o­my, as you were think­ing about how does the ver­nac­u­lar trans­late into what acad­e­mia already accepts or says is the ter­mi­nol­o­gy for tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion or that space?

Gaskins: One of the things that I noticed, being African-American and female in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly White insti­tu­tion in Georgia Tech in terms of fac­ul­ty, is I noticed that the cur­ricu­lum or canon did­n’t have any­one of col­or in it for dig­i­tal media. It had a few women, maybe three or four, five, for a two year span of read­ing. And then no one of col­or. So for some­one who real­ly want­ed to do some­thing that was cul­tur­al­ly respon­sive, that pre­sent­ed a prob­lem. I had to find a Ron Eglash to real­ly kick that off. Someone who was an eth­no­math­e­mati­cian who stud­ies cul­tures and who con­nects it to math.

But I also had this knowl­edge of being an artist and work­ing with graf­fi­ti artists, work­ing with reg­u­lar con­tem­po­rary artists, mak­ing art myself, and my inter­est in sci­ence or my inter­est in tech­nol­o­gy, obvi­ous­ly was some­thing that real­ly pushed me to think about how I would describe the types of projects and works that peo­ple in these com­mu­ni­ties were doing that made sense in a STEM or STEAM capac­i­ty. So cre­at­ing a tax­on­o­my, a domain, say­ing this is a domain, was my first… And then how do you cre­ate a frame­work around that con­cep­tu­al­ly and the­o­ret­i­cal­ly was the oth­er piece. So before I get to the actu­al STEAM Lab, I had to cre­ate this frame­work which to work from, because it did­n’t exist. So that was problematic. 

But then once you do that, it starts mov­ing, and you start real­iz­ing there’s this whole world of inno­va­tion hap­pen­ing that is not often mak­ing it to aca­d­e­m­ic dis­course. But when it does, it’s this a‑ha moment or we bring a kid in from Sierra Leone and we study that, real­iz­ing that this hap­pens a lot, just in many oth­er neigh­bor­hoods around the world includ­ing in the United States, where peo­ple don’t have resources and because of that are inno­vat­ing and cre­at­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties. So the tax­on­o­my and frame­work was the basis, but then get­ting into it and mak­ing and doing was the next step.

Audience 7: Your ear­li­er slides with your tax­on­o­my got me bub­bling about the cul­tur­al brico­lage you describe. And I think you may have just answered this a lit­tle bit now, but most of your exam­ples have been stu­dents who have an artis­tic bent by nature, and they’re by virtue of this pro­gram’s efforts being like, Ohhh…,” open­ing their minds to the pos­si­bil­i­ties that the science/technology/engineering aspect STEAM rep­re­sents. But I’m very much hear­ing you say that you and your pro­gram sort of occu­py this bridge-building mid­dle ground, and I’m won­der­ing how much either of an effort you’re mak­ing or exam­ples you might have of some­one who’s a science/technologist/engineer by bent is say­ing, Oh,” and hav­ing their mind opened to the artis­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties of the oth­er stuff they’re doing. I ask because I have some friends work­ing on doing that same kind of bridge-building build­ing with respect to empa­thy and ethics and pol­i­cy­mak­ing say­ing, There’s this whole oth­er stuff you need to think about and will make you bet­ter at what you do.”

Gaskins: I think that leg­is­la­tion just passed two months ago for STEAM, so that means more sup­port from the fed­er­al lev­el. But also, when I talk to artists about sci­ence, they’re inter­est­ed. Huh. I do that all the time.” Or math, I cre­ate chore­og­ra­phy based on frac­tals.” Happens. Artists are very open to those kinds of con­nec­tions. But if you talk to, not an eth­no­math­e­mati­cian, just a math­e­mati­cian, they may not get it. They may not even see it. Ron will tell you, I appre­ci­ate low art. Not an artist. I refer to peo­ple who know that to work with when I do these projects.” 

But at the same time, every once in a while you’ll find a physi­cist or some sort of sci­en­tist who has some arts back­ground or has some sort of appre­ci­a­tion for the arts. That’s the per­son you start to work with. Then at some point col­leagues begin to appre­ci­ate the con­nec­tion. But I think that has to hap­pen more often. It’s very dif­fi­cult; it can take years just for that to actu­al­ly hap­pen. So we do have an arts sci­ence type of pro­gram spear­head­ed by TERC at Boston Arts Academy right now. The focus is the micro­bio­me, so teach­ers and artists are work­ing with sci­en­tists from The Broad Institute on how to bridge art and sci­ence. It’s a three-year fund­ed project and they’re going into the third year now, but they’ve had some under­stand­ings about how dif­fi­cult the process is to bring peo­ple from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, dif­fer­ent areas and fields of study togeth­er and how do you get every­one on the same page in order for them to begin to work on things that ben­e­fit young peo­ple, ben­e­fit stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ties. So, it’s a process is what I’m say­ing. It’s not some­thing that may hap­pen right away.

Audience 8: Hi. Thank you for this talk. This pro­gram has been up and run­ning for a year. Where do you hope it’ll be in five years and what sort of steps do you see in the future both to scale it and to make it broad­er and deeper?

Gaskins: I think cre­at­ing struc­tures with­in for­mal set­tings that enable inter-disciplinary col­lab­o­ra­tion is a step. I think it’s a big step. So we’re not just in the sci­ence or math team, we’re work­ing in our team with mem­bers of oth­er teams, and we’re work­ing on projects where it makes sense. So it’s not forced, it’s some­thing that comes nat­u­ral­ly and peo­ple have buy-in and are com­mit­ted to it. And it’s a strug­gle because a lot of art teach­ers don’t have to face stan­dard­ized test­ing, for exam­ple, the way a sci­ence or math teacher would. So the kinds of pres­sures that are on sci­ence and math teach­ers in school will help cre­ate a chal­lenge for them to be able to say, Okay, I’m going to work on this piece for the arts,” unless they under­stand how the arts ben­e­fits the sci­en­tif­ic piece, which I think it does. But it takes some­one who under­stands both of those modal­i­ties to make it very explic­it and clear. So find­ing the peo­ple who under­stand that is a chal­lenge as well. And those are the peo­ple that can help guide folks who may not under­stand how to con­nect to the arts, who are in sci­ence or math, or tech­nol­o­gy, or art the oth­er way around. 

So I think in five years I would hope to see, because of all the STEAM ini­tia­tives— And I also want to point out that anoth­er edu­ca­tor in a half-day work­shop on STEAM had asked the two sci­ence teach­ers who were talk­ing about mak­er spaces where their art was. And that was inter­est­ing because they saw mak­er spaces as engi­neer­ing. And the kinds of fun­da­men­tals that you’re get­ting out of mak­er spaces, pri­mar­i­ly, don’t hap­pen in the art stu­dio; it’s dif­fer­ent. It’s a dif­fer­ent habit of mind. So what hap­pens when you mix these habits of mind and work­ing in prac­tices togeth­er, but not to assume that [?] you have a fab lab or a mak­er space that you’re doing art. But you have to think about what is artis­tic about what we do in a mak­er space that we can make more explic­it to peo­ple who are real­ly inter­est­ed in the arts. 

So there’s lots of dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions that need to be had, and ways in which we can col­lab­o­rate that need to hap­pen in three to five years in order for us to begin to make some inroads in this field or domain.

Audience 9: Hi, thanks for your talk. It’s very inspir­ing. I was won­der­ing if you could say a bit more about how this could be scaled up and how you see your­self poten­tial­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in that beyond the school that you’re at. And if you could also just throw in a lit­tle infor­ma­tion about that leg­is­la­tion that was passed a cou­ple of months ago.

Gaskins: Yeah, I for­get the name of the Congressperson, but it’s been on the books for a minute. But if you do, STEAM leg­is­la­tion, it should pop right up in a Google search, because it just happened.

Audience 9: Does it have fund­ing attached to it?

Gaskins: It will, because what hap­pens is when you say that this is an actu­al thing we are inter­est­ed in fund­ing, on a fed­er­al lev­el then you begin to cre­ate a line item for it, as opposed to not hav­ing it there. Because usu­al­ly peo­ple know about STEM but they don’t know about STEAM. Now there’s this knowl­edge about that. So one of the things I do is I cre­ate things in mod­ules. So the tax­on­o­my’s in mod­ules, this [STEAM Lab Planning and Support slide] is based on mod­ules. When you talk about scal­ing things up, you have to mod­u­lar­ize it and then just like in Scratch or Tetris or what­ev­er you have to be able to plug it in in places where it makes sense sense. But you have to make those mod­ules and then you have to make them be able to con­nect to oth­er things. So I kind of take a Scratch or com­put­er sci­ence approach to an art cur­ricu­lum devel­op­ment because I feel like there’s a lot of room for devel­op­ment in how we cre­ate these and how we put it togeth­er. How we build it may change accord­ing to the dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ments we’re in. So what I do at Boston Arts Academy is going to be dif­fer­ent than what a Philly school does, or dif­fer­ent from Natick or some oth­er school or pro­gram. But there will be ele­ments that every­one can agree upon that need to be part of the pro­gram, part of the planning.

Audience 9: Are you able to con­nect with like-minded col­leagues across the state and the nation?

Gaskins: I came into Boston with those con­nec­tions already. So, as part of my PhD work and being spon­sored by the National Science Foundation, I was con­nect­ed to net­works that are already kind of STEAM-based. So I did some work with the Smithsonian, I advo­cat­ed on Capitol Hill for NSF and learned how to be a lob­by­ist, in a sense, and under­stand how fund­ing works in Capitol Hill and how to talk to some­one about STEAM who may not have that knowl­edge or appre­ci­a­tion. And also there are net­works of aca­d­e­mics and folks in edu­ca­tion who are doing aca­d­e­m­ic papers and things like that who are sort of the decision-makers in some of these pro­grams that get fund­ed. So being part of those con­ven­ings has been some­thing that’s been part of my work as well.

Audience 10: How does your think­ing, your approach, relat­ed to the Emilia Romagna approach to ear­ly edu­ca­tion? This is Northern Italy. Basically, they teach the three Rs to very young kids, pre-schoolers, ear­ly school­ers, where they teach the three Rs through build­ing projects and art projects. (I can’t make a dis­tinc­tion between the two.) There was even a school, I don’t know if it’s still the King’s[?] School in Cambridge used that approach when my kids were pri­ma­ry school age. I know because I vis­it­ed the class­room at one point. So have you looked into that? I don’t know how much the­o­ry there is about the Emilia Romagna approach. I’ve seen it in action, but I don’t know the the­o­ry myself. But it’s basi­cal­ly what you’re doing, but it starts with very young kids. And it’s not an option, it’s just the way they teach.

Gaskins: Actually, I think that the idea of us fig­ur­ing out where we’re going or where we are in edu­ca­tion and where we could go and what oth­er peo­ple are doing suc­cess­ful­ly is some­thing that needs to hap­pen as well. But I also think what hap­pens with­in a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty or group could hap­pen dif­fer­ent­ly in anoth­er com­mu­ni­ty or group. So it’s real­ly based on the inter­ests or the every­day prac­tices of the groups and where they are.

Audience 10: You prob­a­bly said but I did­n’t catch how old the youngest kids are when they come into the program.

Gaskins: At Boston Arts Academy? They are ninth graders, so thir­teen years old. And there can be an argu­ment for things like com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing and pro­gram­ming should hap­pen younger, so that they have time to be in that modal­i­ty before they get to high school, and I would agree with that. But also, when they don’t, then we have to sort of meet them where they are. So I think the idea of work­ing ele­men­tary and mid­dle school, much younger ages, I think real­ly pre­pares them. My expo­sure to com­put­er graph­ics and com­put­er pro­gram­ming came from my moth­er, even though I did­n’t engage that skill or get into that until much lat­er in my youth. But hav­ing that expo­sure and know­ing that my moth­er could be a com­put­er pro­gram­mer meant that I knew I could do that, too. So I saw some­one, it was reflect­ed in some­one I knew and that was close to me. A lot of these kids don’t have that at all. So I think the expo­sure, access, oppor­tu­ni­ty, but also expo­sure to peo­ple who are from their com­mu­ni­ty or from their neigh­bor­hood or what­ev­er doing this type of work is also a moti­va­tor to stay with these types of dom­i­nant, main­stream types of things that we’re not involved in.

Audience 11: This may sound like heresy, but I believe that if a lot more math and sci­ence teach­ing took place in this sort of con­text where it’s actu­al­ly con­nect­ed to the things that you use it for, that we would have a much more edu­cat­ed pop­u­la­tion by the time they fin­ish what­ev­er study, or in fact they would nev­er fin­ish. Because cur­rent­ly the math and sci­ence that we teach is often so detached from where it came from and what it’s used for that this is one of the rea­sons why so many peo­ple are walk­ing around who have been turned off by their school edu­ca­tion. Comments?

Gaskins: In my case, I always knew I was going to be an artist. That was actu­al­ly my moth­er’s doing. I knew from a very young age that art was going to be it, but I like sci­ence. And I did real­ly well with tech­nol­o­gy. So there were things that were also fos­tered and pushed for­ward, but my moth­er’s not an artist. She does­n’t under­stand the arts, maybe has an appre­ci­a­tion for it. And I think that her train­ing, her edu­ca­tion, was devoid of that. And I think a lot of folks today are also devoid of that in their edu­ca­tion. So the appre­ci­a­tion may be there, or maybe not at all. So that needs to be cul­ti­vat­ed in the edu­ca­tion­al process, mean­ing acad­e­mia or… So as an under­grad­u­ate or grad­u­ate, you actu­al­ly have some inter-disciplinary con­nec­tions, oth­er­wise you’re not real­ly going to know where to con­nect, or how to con­nect, with­out pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment. It cre­ates a chal­lenge, but I think it’s a chal­lenge that we can meet because we do have this idea of a STEAM edu­ca­tion and now there’s leg­is­la­tion and all this inter­est in it.

It’s also inter­na­tion­al. So there are peo­ple com­ing from Colombia and oth­er coun­tries who are doing STEAM ini­tia­tives as well. So I think in terms of we’re in a moment. I talk about afro­fu­tur­ism a lot, and when I talk about afro­fu­tur­ism, I talk about it from the stand­point of some­one who’s used to vir­tu­al dig­i­tal spaces, who not just works in visu­al arts but also works in cod­ing and pro­gram­ming and how do I cre­ate dif­fer­ent types of art­work that are afro­fu­tur­is­tic using code. That kind of lan­guage isn’t talked about a lot. We talk about spec­u­la­tive fic­tion, we talk about writ­ing. But see writ­ing also as cod­ing. But that’s me and my inter­ests. So the more we have expo­sure of folks, we have writ­ers, we have folks who are artists, who are doing cod­ing for cre­ative expres­sion, for exam­ple, then we are able to bridge that and get it to a point where we can give access and oppor­tu­ni­ties to young peo­ple who need it the most.

Audience 12: I have just a cou­ple of com­ments and stuff, and then a ques­tion. I love that we’re just start­ing off the con­ver­sa­tion as STEAM and not how to get the A back into STEM, which is where in the arts edu­ca­tion space, that’s been a lot of what the con­ver­sa­tion I feel like has been focused around for the past sev­er­al years. So I just love that that’s just ini­tial­ly where we’re just start­ing the conversation.

I also love you bring­ing in things like the tenseg­ri­ty sculp­tures and stuff, and bring­ing in Buckminster Fuller, who’s a great exam­ple of this blend­ing of art and tech­nol­o­gy and design and all that sort of stuff and came out the Black Mountain School which also spawned a num­ber of oth­er of this sort of thinking.

So my ques­tion, though, is are we just talk­ing about some­thing else oth­er than just the tra­di­tion­al acad­e­my of depart­ments? There’s the math­e­mat­ics depart­ment, there is the arts depart­ment, there is the sci­ence depart­ment. How do we actu­al­ly get past that sort of rig­or that’s already been estab­lished with­in edu­ca­tion, to bring in this more inter-disciplinary thing? Is it that the eas­i­er wins are inject­ing more art into math, or inject­ing more math into art? Which direc­tion do you see the big­ger wins and the eas­i­er ways to make this more suc­cess­ful in cre­at­ing an inter-disciplinary structure?

Gaskins: My fear about STEAM is that arts were not on the same lev­el, that they were just an addi­tion as opposed to actu­al deep engage­ment in the arts. I also think that deep engage­ment in the arts means that you have some­one who’s used to being in that sort of space as part of the con­ver­sa­tion. So if you’re not plan­ning with some­one who is an artist, who is used to that expe­ri­ence, then you’re going to be miss­ing out. And also I find that some­times when you’re talk­ing about STEAM and you’re talk­ing about math, for exam­ple, you’re real­ly talk­ing about fun math, not art and math. Which is great. I think it’s great. But it’s not deep engage­ment in the arts. So I think some peo­ple, sci­ence or math teach­ers, may say, Oh, this is art,” when it’s not. It’s fun. And I think the asso­ci­a­tion between art and fun…sure, but now we’re talk­ing about some­thing that’s not real­ly STEAM.

So I think we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to begin to look at the kinds of ways we can— And sure we can bring in human­i­ties, writ­ing, we can bring those things in. But I think it still is the same chal­lenge. It’s how do we find a com­mon lan­guage? So, when I did get fund­ed by the National Science Foundation, I brought in an astro­physi­cist, a math­e­mati­cian, and an artist, a Native American artist, African-American artist into the room to talk about what’s our com­mon lan­guage. How do we begin to work togeth­er and under­stand each oth­er, even though we come from dif­fer­ent ways of work­ing, ways of cre­at­ing? And I think that’s a first step. And I think the more we do that and the more con­ven­ings we have that do that, then we start get­ting to what you were talk­ing about in terms of it’s not just art added, we’re talk­ing about more of a sort of inter-disciplinary space or exper­i­men­tal space for learn­ing this kind of stuff. But right now we have to cre­ate those spaces and we have to cre­ate those oppor­tu­ni­ties for these folks to come togeth­er where they feel like they belong or feel like they have a voice.

Audience 13: Just kind of show­ing my igno­rance, I was just curi­ous if a stu­dent loves your pro­gram and they grad­u­ate, are there high­er edu­ca­tion pro­grams that would be pre­pared to engage them and let them con­tin­ue with this kind of thing? Are they few and far between or…what is the landscape?

Gaskins: I think high­er ed, there are lot of oth­er chal­lenges beside that, such as finances, that I think are real pro­hib­i­tive for stu­dents who don’t have those resources. Once you’re into a pro­gram, you might find some pock­ets of that kind of work hap­pen­ing. But first you’ve got to have the mon­ey or the resources to be able to get there. And a lot of the young peo­ple are going to be faced with a lot of debt and a lot of prob­lems of even get­ting to that point, which is get­ting worse by the day. But at the same time, I think hav­ing a sort of entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it helps to boost moti­va­tion to go in that direc­tion but now you build that blue­print, you build the resources, as you go along and you have what you did­n’t have before going into the pro­gram so maybe you don’t have as much debt. And maybe you do have a lit­tle side busi­ness, or maybe you are col­lab­o­rat­ing in a lit­tle pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny with your friends and you’re doing this kind of inter-disciplinary work and hav­ing your own game com­pa­ny or things like that. And some young peo­ple do that, and that’s how they get through. But a lot of the young peo­ple that I’m talk­ing about don’t do that yet. And I think that is some­thing that needs to hap­pen more, where we pro­vide the spaces but also pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ties for these types of col­lab­o­ra­tions and incu­ba­tors, where they’re actu­al­ly cre­at­ing the blue­print and then the finan­cial struc­ture to be able to do these kinds of things that are a lit­tle more hard to do like going to school after twelfth grade.

Shannon Dosemagen: Some of us are in a work­ing group at Berkman, the Inclusive Innovation Working Group. We talk a lot about dif­fer­ent tech­nol­o­gy projects for civic engage­ment and civic par­tic­i­pa­tion. And I’m won­der, from what you have here around pro­gram design, if you have thoughts on the under­pin­nings or the under­ly­ing ideas that real­ly help stu­dents work through the process. So one might be hold­ing up fail­ures and talk­ing about fail­ures open­ly rather than push­ing them aside. So I would to hear if you have thoughts on that, just from the last year that you’ve been work­ing on this.

Gaskins: Saturday, we did five per­for­mances in the the­ater using the video pro­jec­tion map­ping. We had one par­tic­u­lar stu­dent who was very good at it, and then the pro­gram glitched dur­ing a per­for­mance. So I’m pulled from the audi­ence when the stu­dent is pan­ick­ing because…it’s not a full fail­ure, but for him it was because it’s not doing what it’s sup­posed to do. So I said it’s work­ing to some degree, so let it roll to inter­mis­sion, and then I’ll come up and fix the issue. And that’s kind of how it is. That’s what hap­pens when you work with new tech­nol­o­gy. My behavior…I did­n’t panic…you know, the stu­dent was pan­ick­ing. We have to get used to the fact that it does­n’t always work, and we have to make it work in the best way we can and then keep mov­ing. And I think this idea has been mod­eled by the adults who are in the young per­son­’s life, the teach­ers, the artists. And I think that fail­ure, the more times you— It’s not that you fail all the time, you fail and learn. But you have to fail, because you can’t real­ly suc­ceed until you real­ize where…areas that you don’t go into. But I think that a lot of kids have been sort of indoc­tri­nat­ed in this idea that if you fail you’re a fail­ure. And I think that has to change. I think these types of projects will require stu­dents to get used to the idea that it’s not always going to work. And the behav­ior of just toss­ing a project and say­ing, I can’t do it,” or, It’s not going to hap­pen,” is not how you get to com­ple­tion. And so I think see­ing folks, adults, artists, who are doing that, who are fail­ing, get­ting up and fig­ur­ing out, going in and fix­ing it and rolling with it, I think is a good les­son and I think helps young peo­ple’s under­stand­ing that it’s part of the process.

Dosemagen: Do we have last ques­tions? Alright, then. Thank you very much, Dr. Gaskins. I think it’s been a won­der­ful session.

Further Reference

Event page at the Berkman Center web site.

There are many posts at Dr. Gaskins’ blog on both the techno-vernacular and STEAM.

Techno-Vernacular Creativity, Innovation & Learning in Underrepresented Ethnic Communities of Practice at SlideShare, the slides for Dr. Gaskins’ dis­ser­ta­tion defense. These pre­date this pre­sen­ta­tion, but con­tain the major­i­ty of those vis­i­ble in the video and many extra.

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