Collaborative Research: Planning grant: E2textiles: Ethno Electronic Textile Designs for Broadening Participation in Computing for American Indian You

Project: Research project

Project Details


Though recent observations suggest that computer science is making a comeback (Miller, 2011), participation in computer science and entry into technology-related careers by underrepresented groups (NSF, 2006) continues to be alarmingly low. Explanations for this persistent trend point to a combination of factors, such as lack of access to advanced computer science courses and curricula (Margolis et al., 2008), lack of teacher preparation (Goode, 2007), and lack of culturally relevant ways to work with underrepresented groups (Eisenhart& Edwards, 2004). In response, several initiatives have begun to research and develop models that inform the design of our proposed research with electronic textiles and American Indian youth, teachers, and community members. Computational or e-textilestextile artifacts that contain embedded computers and sensorsare promising portals into youths existing interests in new media, fashion, and design, connecting them to computer science education using indigenous communities craft practices, and thus have the potential to strengthen school-community relationships. Our EthnoEtextiles (hereafter: e2textiles) proposal expands e-textiles in new directions by integrating the following successful developments and NSF work: (1) a computational construction kit, the Lilypad Arduino (Buechley, 2006), that can promote the type of technology fluency missing in students creative explorations with digital media; (2) teacher professional development approaches that encourage culturally relevant and reflective teaching with technology (Scott et al., 2009); and (3) workshop models that create connections among youth, members of their community, and their cultural heritage (Battiste, 2002; McCarty, 2005). Our goal is to promote the type of design agency (Eglash& Bennett, 2009) that supports collaborative, creative investigations with computational materials and ideas by American Indian youth, teachers, and community members. We seek this planning grant to develop research, community partnerships and educational models and activities that can become a platform for larger systemic and sustainable initiatives for e2textiles in computer science education. We have brought together an interdisciplinary team composed of CS and American Indian/Alaska Native teacher STEM educators from the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University to investigate workshop models for American Indian youth, communities and teachers to engage with e2textiles in afterschool and school settings. Our proposal builds on research in ethnocomputing with virtual bead looms and beadwork and expands it into the field of e-textiles using an iterative design cycle that collaboratively generates various workshop models and approaches with youth, pre-service teachers, and community elders and then investigates their potential in a further round of implementation. We will examine American Indian students, elders, and pre-service teachers ideas for and understandings of etextile applications to computational design and materials by reviewing and contributing to an online community database.
Effective start/end date2/15/127/31/14


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $99,931.00


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