Friday, August 28, 2015

Pooja Saxena - Fiber Artist

I am a new weaver joining a community of very enthusiastic, talented, and creative individuals. I am excited to use weaving as a means to understand mathematics and how mathematical minds work through the intricate craft patterns. I am a mathematician by profession, a constructionist in approach, and an ardent lover of numbers. For six years I taught mathematics to both high school and undergraduate college students. Over a decade ago, I began my work to integrate education and technology for developing curriculum for math learners in the US and low SES (Socio Economic Status) students in India. My life is enriched with stories of female students and their mathematical experiences; particularly in understanding specific techniques that motivate them. During my third year as a doctoral student in Educational Policy Studies with a minor in Learning Sciences at Indiana University, I took a course taught by Prof. Kylie Peppler. I was truly intrigued by the course and the techniques she used to ignite gender-specific motivation for enhancing mathematical abilities. During this course, I worked with Justin Whiting to design a roller coaster made out of paper as a part of a Creativity Lab activity. We focused on tacit and explicit forms of play and collaboration to enhance individual, and in some cases tangential, learning. Our project raised a set of questions requiring further exploration; questions such as: (1) In what ways can participants learn physics concepts through the use of a paper roller coaster?; (2) To what degree do participants demonstrate greater understanding of the concepts after building and using the paper roller coaster? Additionally, it generated many complex questions about Physics in the real world and how people make knowledge claims based on what they already know.

A key focus of my current weaving task is to understand what motivates or deters young female students to engage in the STEM fields. I have joined a weaving class in Bloomington, to enable me to effectively explore this subject through the Re-Crafting Math project. I am looking forward to researching how weaving can motivate mathematical thinking in girls. 

Look out for my incredible threading, tie-up, and treadling experiences that I plan on sharing with you on this blog!

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