Monday, January 5, 2015

Greetings and Welcome from the Re-Crafting Mathematics Team!

We are delighted to announce the opening of our new blog for our Re-Crafting Education project team! Just recently, we received support from the National Science Foundation (#1420303) for our collaborative project titled, "Re-Crafting Mathematics Education: Designing Tangible Manipulatives Rooted in Traditional Female Crafts". This work is based on our prior work studying design, mathematics, and traditional female crafts, particularly when integrated with electronics in what we call "e-textiles."

As part of this new project, we plan to extend this earlier work to better understand how traditional female crafting practices can make far-reaching improvements in a range of learning outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. These types of investigations will help reveal key issues underlying the underrepresentation of women and girls in lifelong STEM learning.

As part of our efforts, we will be conducting a series of ethnographies of female crafting circles to better theorize the connections particularly between mathematics and traditional women’s crafts. In fact, we are coming to understand craft as a lived mathematical practice -- that craft and mathematics are closely intertwined. Following our initial ethnographic field work, we're planning to develop and test a set of new hands-on classroom manipulatives for schools and after-school programs (targeted at youth in grades 5-9).

We’ve been hard at work for the past few months, launching our fieldwork, designing new large-scale surveys that we have piloted at the World Maker Faire in NYC, and joining new online communities (like Ravelry) that can teach us a thing or two about how adult crafters engage in mathematics both their in highly networked world and in their work settings. As we start to analyze our data and reflect on what we’ve learned, we’d like to share our work in progress in hopes that we might invite engagement and formative feedback from a broader community of researchers, designers, educators, and learners.

We have a fantastic team of researchers who will be been engaged in a diverse range of crafting, including knitting, quilting, crochet, and more. This team includes renowned writer and celebrated TED Talk speaker, Margaret Wertheim, who will be a key consultant on the project, as well as our excellent advisory board for the project, including Margaret Cagle, Michael Eisenberg, Rogers Hall, Paula Hooper, and Catherine McTamaney, whom collectively have expertise in mathematics education, ethnomathematics, crafting, and learning.

What’s particularly exciting to us about this project is that it represents an interdisciplinary collaboration between two learning scientists, one that studies mathematics (Dr. Melissa Gresalfi, PI) and one that studies the arts and crafts (Dr. Kylie Peppler, PI), and includes a team of scholars who come from diverse backgrounds. We have a starting team from cognitive science (Kate Samson), education (Janis Watson), and learning sciences (Sophia Bender, Kate Chapman, and Panchompoo Wisittanawat). Over the course of the coming year, we’ll be launching some new field sites and have new team members joining the mix, so please stay tuned!

As we move forward in sharing our emerging stories from the field, we'll be highlighting compelling examples and notable figures from the field. We hope you enjoy these glimpses into our fieldwork and emerging analysis as much as we’ve enjoyed engaging with these communities of activated learners, crafters, and mathematicians.

Stay tuned for more updates on relevant happenings and early reports from the field!
Kylie and Melissa

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