GRAPPLING WITH THE FAMILIAR/STRANGE IN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDIES OF YOUNG PEOPLE DOING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Friday, November 20, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM

706 (Colorado Convention Center)

An increasing number of anthropologists of education are turning their attention to studies of science and technology among young people in schools, in learning communities outside of school, in sites of popular culture, and in virtual spaces. Drawing on the longer tradition of science and technology studies (STS), together with social practice theories of identity and agency, these researchers focus on ways young people take up science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the diverse contexts of their lives and navigate among them. This work disrupts conventional ideas about what it means to learn in STEM fields (and where), to develop an interest or follow a path into these fields, or to engage with and against historical-normative ideas and practices of STEM. The papers in this session reveal surprising forms, storylines, and juxtapositions in youth participation in STEM. They build on ethnographic studies Identitilearning on their own terms”(Gustavson 2007), documenting creative navigations of the vast STEM infrastructure driven by youths’ interests and needs. The studies make evident the complex dynamic of the familiar/strange in youths’ doing of science and technology on their own terms and show in what ways it challenges, disrupts and brings into focus new forms of practices. At the same time, these new forms are not without their own legacies and entanglements. Normative projects of schooling, science/technology, economic competitiveness, knowledge acquisition, adulthood, and the meaning of a successful life impinge on new forms in multiple, complex ways. The papers in this session take up these intersections to reveal both their productive and reproductive implications. In doing so, they leave us with the challenge to rethink the future of science and technology and the ways we may encourage its uptake more widely by making space for and recognizing diversity in practices, meanings, pathways, and selves in STEM. The theoretical (social practice theory, learning sciences, actor network theory) and methodological (case studies, ethnography, participatory video) grounding of the papers is rich and diverse, offering convincing anthropologically-oriented arguments by giving voice to youth through joint work with their peers and communities that make us seriously engage with the familiar/strange that marks underserved youth in STEM today. The papers (with half focusing on girls only and the other half on underserved minority youth) illustrate how youth negotiate identities in STEM and re-author themselves through their forms of engagement in a variety of practices. The papers show how such re-authoring of selves is situated within youths’ larger social networks that support them (teachers, family, peers) but also in what ways their authoring remains caught up with their histories while making possible new imaginaries for the future that disrupt normative practices and narratives. It is in these ways that the papers grapple with the familiar/strange in that they unpack taken-for-granted narratives about what youth interest-driven engagement with STEM implies, about who does STEM, and who pursues STEM careers.

This session would be of particular interest to:
Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students

Organizers:  Jrene Rahm (Université de Montréal)

Chairs:  Margaret Eisenhart (University of Colorado Boulder)

10:15 AM
Authoring New Histories: Learning from Girls’ Negotiations of Identities-with-Standing in High School Carrie D Allen (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Margaret Eisenhart (University of Colorado Boulder)

10:30 AM
Latino/a Students, Families, and Their Teachers Challenging, Assembling, and Owning College and Career Readiness in Science and Technology  Cory Buxton (University of Georgia) and Martha Allexsaht-Snider (University of Georgia)

10:45 AM
A Digital Story By Youth about the “Take up” of Identities and Improvisational Crafting of Identity Pathways Beyond an Afterschool Science Program  Jrene Rahm (Université de Montréal), Audrey Lachaîne (Université de Montréal) and Ahlia Mathura (Université de Montréal)

11:00 AM
Agency and Identity Work: Youth As Engineers for Sustainable Communities Angela M Calabrese Barton (Michigan State University)

11:15 AM
Taking an Interest: Examining the Affordances of “Interest” for Youths’ Learning Trajectories in STEM  Lisa Hope Schwartz (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Terri S. Wilson (University of Colorado at Boulder)

11:30 AM
Laughing Together and Learning Together: Productive Science Learning Spaces for Middle School Girls  Sara Hagenah (Boise State University) and Jessica Thompson (University of Washington)

11:45 AM
Connecting Youths’ Science-Related Discourses, Learning Pathways, and Identities Leah A Bricker (University of Michigan)

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