School Science Students Developing and Mobilizing Eco-Just Engineering Products

John Lawrence Bencze, Dave Del Gobbo, Sarah El Halwany, Minja Milanovic, Majd Zouda

Abstract


In many contexts worldwide, educators are encouraged to integrate aspects of the traditionally-isolated disciplines, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Among variants of STEM education, promotion of engineering design and consciousness of engineering processes, products and services seem particularly prevalent. Innovations/inventions from STEM are said, for instance, to improve people’s lives and to contribute to jurisdictional economic competitiveness. While there are numerous defenders of such foci, several scholars suggest that many STEM education initiatives minimize or alter students’ consciousness of harms to living and nonliving things associated with influences of powerful people (e.g., financiers) and groups (corporations, think tanks, trade organizations, etc.) on fields of science and technology and on many other entities. Accordingly, we report findings from action research involving a secondary school science teacher’s effort to educate students about such problematic relationships and, for areas of their concern, and to encourage them to design and implement STEM-based engineering products that perform intended functions and also addressed matters of social and/or ecological justice. Students developed, for example, a candle recycling device made from waste material, 3D-printed athletic shoes made from biodegradable material and 3D-printed paralletes supports (also biodegradable) for calisthenics training. At the same time, work still seems necessary to help students with abstract concepts like immutable mobiles and techniques for mobilizing such more eco-just technologies across multiple context to perhaps generate an assemblage of co-supportive living, nonliving and symbolic actants. Claims from Science and Technology Studies, such as sociotechnical imaginaries, show great promise in this regard.

Keywords


science education; engineering design; sociopolitical activism

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