Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Education

First Advisor

Susan Yoon

Abstract

For nearly one hundred years, from progressive education to critical pedagogy, philosophers, researchers, and educators have advocated for listening, respecting, and providing space for the learner’s voice within education. When teaching challenging science content, it is vital to provide both a context for the knowledge and a reason for learning the content. It can be difficult to provide a learning environment that allows learners to gain an understanding of demanding content while being able to have creative self-expression—agency—without turning youth culture into a static banal concept. This study aimed to tackle the challenge of providing context, a reason for learning, and space for youth voice for a diverse group of teenagers. I explored how a multidisciplinary art and science maker workshop focused on sound encouraged a diverse set of young people to understand sound as energy and creatively express themselves. As part of outreach programming for a large, northeastern science museum in the United States, ten rising sophomores participated in a workshop where they created original sound pieces and built homemade speakers as part of an art exhibit. This mixed-methods early stage/exploratory study found youth exerting their agency through the sound pieces, homemade speakers, and artist statements. There is also evidence of youth gaining understanding of the science of sound. In the discussion, I address how these findings begin to push against two criticisms of the maker movement: what artifacts count as maker projects, and who is considered to be a maker. I go on to examine how, for some youth, learning the science of sound through a multidisciplinary workshop led to having a purpose for understanding challenging science content.

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