The Build a Better Book project engages youth in the design and fabrication of inclusive media, including picture books, games and other learning materials. Using both low- and high-tech Makerspace tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Makey Makeys, circuit boards and craft materials, youth design, fabricate, test and refine multi-modal products that incorporate tactile and audio features. These products are designed by and for learners with visual impairments as well as other physical and learning disabilities. Through the project, middle and high school youth develop technology skills and learn about STEM careers as they design and create unique and playful products that can be seen, touched and heard!
In phase 2 of the project (Empathy-Driven Engineering Internships for Teens: Connecting Technical Work to Social Needs; 2021-25), we are examining the influences of a professionally-structured, empathy-driven engineering internship on teens’ perceptions of engineering, identities, and transferrable STEM skills. We are implementing and studying this internship model across four diverse formal and informal education settings, including a university-based summer internship program (CO), a public library makerspace (NJ), a makerspace/entrepreneurship non-profit organization (MA), and a public school district (AL).
The Build a Better Book project is supported by the National Science Foundation under ITEST awards #1615247 and #2049109. Any opinions, findings and conclusions presented here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.