Graduate STEM Fellow Profile
Thesis: Craftopolis: An Exploration of Cyber physical, Craft Play Spaces in Promoting Explorative Education
College/University: University of Colorado Boulder
Research Advisor: Mike Eisenberg, Gerhard Fischer
Degree Sought: Ph.D., Computer Science
Department: Computer Science
Research Focus: Crafts, Technology, and Education
Teaching Partner(s): Brooke Smith
Description of Research
I belong to the CTG lab, the Craft Technology Group, and am interested in blending crafts, computers, microcontrollers, narratives and physical worlds to create a new generation of toys which invite children to engage in computational thinking skills while benefiting from the socialness of Web 2.0 communities. My current project, Craftopolis, invites children to build their own physical environments with narrative structures as opposed to the more traditional and popular robotic toys.
Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
My research and the projects from my lab are largely intended for
students within the realm of education. Often times the most difficult challenge in adapting these projects for a middle school classroom is narrowing their focus, limiting the number of materials that we can use, and developing an activity which students can work on in groups with a low threshold and high ceiling. Later this year, we will be building programmable plush toys, where the students will not only create the toys out of soft craft materials, but design and construct the circuits and program their behavior. To limit the scope, we will minimize the number of materials students can use to a handful of actuators and sensors, to the extent that it allows for complex projects and allows students to become experts with a few materials.
Beyond this, students are encouraged to try new components and program more complex behaviors outside of the class by using the free online software that will be provided. Our goal is to introduce engineering and computer science concepts in a rather non-traditional way, that attracts a larger variety of students and exposes them to “computer science” principles and an experience that will hopefully serve to broaden their understanding of this discipline.