MAKETANK Inc. is a 501(c)(3)non-profit corporation in the state of Ohio led by Kate Carlier Currie and Rod Northcutt. MAKETANK has organized and run the Oxford Kinetics Festival since 2011 in addition to a variety of STEAM educational programming and workshops. To find out more about MAKETANK check out our website at maketankinc.org.
MAKETANK Inc. Theory of Change
MAKETANK Inc. (MTI) believes society is best served when all members of our community have access to engaging programming involving creative making and innovative thinking. Founded by a group of artists, MAKETANK strives to design and implement programs that build individual’s creative confidence, encourage collaboration, build community, and enhance understanding of STEAM - science, technology, engineering, art and math. We approach this on three fronts: community building and outreach through the Oxford Kinetics Festival; STEAM into Action educational programming for in school and after school projects; research into the efficacy of STEAM education and design thinking pedagogy. We embrace the ideology of the Maker Movement – empowering people with the ability to make things for themselves and understand how tools and technology work and can be used creatively. We expand the reach of the Maker Movement to embrace girls, traditionally underrepresented minorities, and under-resourced communities and individuals to increase the innovative thinking and creative making skills of our community. We believe diversity = innovation. A greater variety of viewpoints and backgrounds at work on any problem will generate more innovative solutions.
Oxford Kinetics Festival
MAKETANK has been organizing and administering the Oxford Kinetics Festival since its inception in 2011. The festival is free and open to the public, drawing thousands of visitors of all ages. Every year the festival brings together artists, makers, scientists, educators, students, and community members of all stripes to celebrate and explore creative STEAM activities. Participants from MTI’s STEAM into Action programs throughout the year bring the results of their projects to share with the community and inspire festival participants with the joy of STEAM exploration. A variety of groups from around the region develop projects to bring to the festival. Some of these are classes and clubs from regional universities including National Art Educators Assoc., Biomedical Engineering Society, Engineers Without Borders, Student Physics Association, MU Geology Student Society, and many more. Festival participants can enjoy a day of hands-on STEAM learning and exploration while learning about the vast array of careers and opportunities available in STEAM fields. There are races and workshops, experiments and demonstrations. The festival is a day to show off your creative spirit and learn from the rest of the community creative new ways to go about making your mark in the world.
STEAM into Action
Throughout the year MTI administrators and volunteers design engaging STEAM programming for kids throughout our region. Some of this programming takes place in after school activities like the Talawanda Middle School STEAM Club or seasonal programming with regional Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs and group homes. Other programs take place during the school day as we add creative processes to STEM classroom activities to broaden the appeal of STEM learning to reach kids who aren’t connecting with STEM as it is currently being taught. MTI believes that all children should have access to engaging STEAM learning and exploration. Many kids get this exposure at summer camps and after school opportunities. However, for many of our young people these opportunities are not possible. We believe a diversity of perspectives in STEAM fields will benefit not just the kids who otherwise would not find their path to a fulfilling career, but also the nation as a whole. We bring engaging STEAM learning to under-served and under-resourced children throughout our region to improve their self-perception and self-efficacy in relation to STEAM learning and career possibilities. In 2016 we will start our new after school STEAM Club at Frederick Douglas Elementary in the Walnut Hills neighborhood in Cincinnati, OH.
We believe in the ability of creative STEAM projects and hands-on activities to engage traditionally underrepresented cohorts with STEM learning and exploration – but we want to be sure we are going about our work in an effective manner. As a result we are conducting research to study the efficacy of our programming approach in academic and after school settings. Working together with a transdisciplinary team of educators and researchers we are seeking funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct a two year exploratory study to examine the effects of a design thinking pedagogical approach to teaching project-based STEM learning outcomes in under-resourced schools in Cincinnati, Ohio; specifically Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine and Frederick Douglas Elementary in Walnut Hills. We collect and analyze data on student self-efficacy and self-perception in our after school programs as well. Through this work we aim to contribute to the national body of research and knowledge in the field of STEM to STEAM education outreach to traditionally underrepresented minorities, girls, and children of low socioeconomic status and increase creativity and innovative thinking in our society in the 21st century.