STEM Equity Workshop at Biosphere 2

At the end of February the impressive Biosphere 2 facility served as the backdrop for a small workshop of just over 60 people to convene for four days to discuss in detail the issue and pathways forward to building equity in STEM education.

With funding provided by the National Science Foundation a diverse group of people from higher education, libraries, museums, public schools, non-profit communities, and research centers were able to explore and discuss the principles for equitable design in STEM learning environments. Over the course of the four days of the workshop the participants forged new directions and created inspiring action plans.

The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 was a truly inspiring location for this event. Steeped in the eerie mysticism and nostalgic futuristic compound that seemed frozen in time, this facility prompted myself and fellow attendees to think about the impact our actions have on the future of STEM education as well as the potential impact on Biosphere 1 (Earth). The setting was certainly a catalyst for inspiring our collective interest to forge purposeful design of STEM education and learning environments to provide a quality and equitable experience for all learners.

This workshop also served as a great community to share the work that we have been doing around the creation and design of the new IgnitED Labs. The issues discussed throughout this workshop, along with my experiences designing emerging technology spaces were highly complementary and relevant.

The first part of the workshop was focused on a series of inspiring “provocations” that pushed the participants to think about many of the issues surrounding the use or in many cases non-use of STEM and related maker spaces. The provocations ranged from thinking about the value of going slow to nurture developments, while others focused on the need for generous exclusion, to the need for designing spaces to include a sense of agency.

Following the provocations was a series of “state of the landscape” presentations that focused on many of the issues at hand today in the STEM and makerspace movement. Namely, issues of access, skillsets, mindsets, moving beyond traditional learning environments, and engaging life-long-learners.

As a final aspect of the workshop, participants shared their experience and knowledge around STEM and maker spaces through reflections and development of action plans. As a key output for this workshop, the workshop organizers will drive forward with a white paper for the NSF that is aimed to help inform future funding directions in maker and studio spaces.

This was a fantastic opportunity to be apart of such a wonderful group of people, I look forward to the continued development of the action plans and future opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from around the world on STEM equity.

Summer Photography Workshop 2016

Travel & Street Photography

This summer I am teaching a fun and exciting photography workshop focused on the contemporary methods and techniques for shooting and post-processing travel and street photography. 

During the course students will be putting their knowledge of photography into action through a series of small photographic assignments in cityscapes and street photography to prepare them for a final production assignment to capture a "City Portrait" of a city/town of their choosing. 

Creating a City Portrait

To accomplish the goal of the final project, students will be asked to create a final image series that encompasses several aspects of the city to help create a complete "portrait" of that location.  In addition to the visual elements of this assignment, students will also write short exposes on each of the main segments of their series to provide a rich context to the images. 

The City Portrait includes:

  1. A cityscape that captures the essence of the city through its architecture, or city planning, and or the the atmosphere of the city.
  2. The people that make that city.  Who are they? What do they think of their city? Is there any interesting characteristics of the people that stand out from other cities near or far?
  3. Food and culture: Looking even closer at our city, what is behind the people, what do they do, where and what do they eat?  Where do they shop or go for entertainment? The final segment will focus on the culture of the city.  Get close, observe and capture the food, the coffee, the shopping etc. that fuels the city.  Are there specific places that "everyone" goes to enjoy a meal, what about the shopping, do people shop in large department stores or small locally owned shops.  Is there a "must eat" or "must try" local delicacy or traditional drink? Find out, and photograph it, capture the "essence" of what makes it unique.

Interactive Leiden Photohunt

Another feature of the class designed to give students a task that would get them out and about in the city, as well as give them locations to practice the photographic techniques discussed and learned in class was a city-wide photohunt.  Similar to a scavenger hunt, there are several (10) locations marked throughout the old city that students need to "capture" with their camera.

If you would like to use the Photohunt please feel free, this map was created using Google Maps custom map feature and has been made publicly available.  Whether you want to join in the fun of photographing the city of Leiden, or just want a map to share with visitors of "must see" please feel free to share the map. Alternatively you can make your own for your city, or one you will (or have) traveled and photographed.

I'll end this with a few words I often say in closing of my photo classes. Good luck on your photo walks, don't forget to look up, and if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.