Is Making All About Tinkering?

Most research on K-12 educational making has focused on tinkering with tangible and digital materials and processes within STEM disciplines such as computing and engineering. Despite the growing fields of bioengineering and synthetic biology, far fewer studies have explored educational making possibilities in these realms. In this study we explore students’ engagement with biomaking, in which people can make new materials and artifacts by genetically manipulating microorganisms. We examined 34 high school students’ experiences and reflections on making biologos by growing color pigments and making biosensors by creating fluorescent reactions. Through observations of workshop interactions and focus group interviews, we found that biomaking primarily engages students with assembly, or step-by-step, processes rather than experimentation or tinkering with materials. In the discussion we address the potentials and affordances of assembly practices in promoting rich learning experiences not just in biomaking, but also in other K-12 maker contexts.

A Case Study of High School Students’ Activities in Biomaker Workshops
PDF Articles
Download Count
Update DOI
DOI / Citations