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Department of Education

Past Research Projects

Here is a sampling of past faculty research. Please feel free to get in touch with any of us for more information or questions.

STEMLiMS: Investigating STEM Literacies in Makerspaces research projectSTEMLiMS: Investigating STEM Literacies in Makerspaces
PI Brian Gravel, in collaboration with Eli Tucker-Raymond at TERC

STEMLiMS is an NSF-funded project project aimed at understanding how participants in makerspaces engage in STEM literacy practices as they create and produce physical products of personal and social value. We are studying how participants in makerspaces interpret, use, and create representational texts, and we will use what we learn to inform the design of makerspaces for learners. Sites for our work include Artisan's Asylum, the South End Tech Center and Sprout & Co. as well as the makerspaces at the Cambridge Friends School and the Somerville STEAM Academy.


Designing Biomimetic Robots research projectDesigning Biomimetic Robots

Kristen Wendell and Ethan Danahy are collaborating with Debra Bernstein and Gilly Puttick at TERC to use educational robotics — specifically the Hummingbird Robot kit — to develop, refine, and study the impact of a biomimetic robotics design curriculum for sixth through eighth grade students. The project is funded by NSF.

Com​munity-Community-Based EngineeringBased Engineering
Kristen Wendell, NSF CAREER grant, with Tejaswini Dalvi

Community-Based Engineering has elementary school teachers consider real problems (e.g. increasing frequency of flooding on MBTA tracks) and develop possible solutions (prototyping flood barriers). The research studies how these experiences affects how they teach engineering, especially in schools serving communities that have had limited access to STEM.

Engineering Inquiry for All at Nedlam's WorkshopEngineering Inquiry for All at Nedlam's Workshop
PI Brian Gravel, Co-PIs Ben Shapiro and Chris Rogers

Nedlam's Workshop is a makerspace at Malden High School, supported by the National Science Foundation. We are collaborating with MHS to develop the space, which includes digital technologies such as 3D printers and Arduino microcontrollers, as a resource for the school and community. It is also a site for our research on how making can help all students succeed in school: How do students learn in a makerspace, and how might their experiences there affect their identities and experiences in the rest of their academic program?

Novel Engineering research projectNovel Engineering ("Integrating Engineering and Literacy")
Chris Rogers, David Hammer, and Merredith Portsmore

Novel Engineering is a five year project at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach funded by the National Science Foundation, working with area elementary school teachers to incorporate engineering into classwork around children's literature. Children identify problems and design solutions for the fictional "clients" in stories they are reading for class. Our research concerns various aspects of learning and teaching in this project, cutting across literacy and engineering education.

Poincaré Institute for Mathematics EducationPoincaré Institute for Mathematics Education
Montserrat Teixidor-i-Bigas, David W. Carraher and Analúcia Schliemann

The Poincaré Institute brings together expertise from mathematics, mathematics education, and physics to help teachers deepen and broaden their understanding of middle school mathematics. Rather than re-teach the mathematics that the teachers already know or offer a set of pre-packaged lessons, the Institute offers them a broad, unified framework to re-envision the mathematics they already teach. The mathematical focus of the Institute is algebra and the mathematics of functions.

Principal Investigator Sabina Vaught of Prison Knowledge Production and Schooling research projectPrison Knowledge Production and Schooling
Sabina Vaught

This set of research projects includes ethnography of institutions, policies, archives, and epistolary engagements. The inquiry focuses on the mechanisms of counter-insurgent state punishment and insurgent knowledge in schooling and prison, particularly through systemic and cultural dimensions of race and gender. The interplay of the state, law, private spheres, and public spheres form the analytical nexus of these projects.

Simulation, Measurement, and Stop Action Moviemaking research projectSiMSAM
PIs Brian Gravel and Michelle Wilkerson-Jerde

Simulation, Measurement, and Stop Action Moviemaking (SiMSAM) explores how middle school students reason about physical phenomena using modeling and simulation technologies. Our goal is build a tool that allows students to move back and forth between formats to create, share and test their own and each others' scientific models.