Brian Gravel

Brian Gravel

Academic Leave
(617) 627-4201
Paige Hall
Research/Areas of Interest:

Brian's research focuses on students' representational practices in science and engineering studied using design-based research on learning technologies and socio-technical learning environments. This work builds from the development of SAM Animation, which is stop-motion animation software developed at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. Brian co-developed SiMSAM: a multi-representational toolkit to support creative computational modeling activities for middle grades learners.

Curious about design, play, and making, his more recent work involves partnerships with researchers and educators to start Nedlam's Workshop in 2014, a makerspace in an urban high school that emphasizes multidisciplinary inquiry. Through this work, he developed both empirical and theoretical contributions focused on heterogeneous design, STEM literacies in making, and analyses of how communities of makers organize to support each other's practices. Collectively, his research complicates and expands the field's understandings of how inquiry unfolds in making contexts, and how makerspaces can be a site for equitable and dignified participation in STEM. Brian's newer work involves teachers engaging in playful computational making to study how they (re)negotiate relationships to inquiry, disciplines, computational tools, and heterogeneous ways of knowing. This includes the exploration of geographies of care and responsibility that support STEM learning environments that center wellbeing. His scholarship examines the many facets of making and making spaces in schools, both in the United States and abroad. Brian's collaborative research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the LEGO Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.


  • PhD, Science Education, Tufts University, Medford, United States, 2011
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, United States, 2004
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, United States, 2001


Brian Gravel is an assistant professor and director of Elementary Education in the Department of Education. Beginning in 2011, Brian and colleagues developed the Elementary STEM M.A.T. program, which prepares elementary school teachers for engaging their students in the practices of science, engineering, and mathematics. The program focuses on (1) work in urban settings by leveraging a strong tradition of urban school partnerships within the department, and (2) it leverages the ongoing research on STEM at the K-12 level by faculty and graduate students in the department. In 2015, Brian was appointed to an assistant professor position conducting research on how people work and learn in STEM, using representations, computation, and other tools for thinking and making.