I have been using the Maker Kit of Squishy Circuits to design my Maker lesson plan and UDL redesign. I had never previously heard of Squishy Circuits before but do remember vaguely playing with electric circuit kits as a grade school student. As an adult, I can reflect and say that comparing the two circuitry experiences, I would have learned considerably more about how circuits work had I been able to explore circuitry as a young student through using the Squishy Circuits kit. The kit is more engaging than a pre-set circuit lab activity because Squishy Circuits have both cross-curricular ties and can be created unique to the learner but accomplish the same overall academic objective.
My group made many interdisciplinary connections while working with Squishy Circuits. It just seemed to make sense that students could use their “…cognitive-creative skills that cut-across disciplinary boundaries” with this kit (Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group, 2012, p.15). However, without a culture of collaboration and team teaching amongst teachers, I think this would be more difficult to implement in practice. I am not highly skilled in the area of science, therefore did not feel like I could really use the Squishy Circuits to their full potential because I was lacking some basic foundational science knowledge to really help my students unleash their capabilities. For example, I had to look up which kinds of materials were conductive and which were insulators because I had forgotten. So it seemed like a times, in order to incorporate Squishy Circuits into my curriculum meaningfully and not doing some creative stretching, I would need to team teach with a science teacher which is why I re-designed my lesson to include that adjustment.
Maker education seems to fit seamlessly into fields of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics). As …. says, “creative thought processes are considered increasingly necessary as criteria for accomplishment in the progressively complex and interdependent 21st century (Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group, 2012, p.14). I think maker education can work in other disciplines but it will be incorporated most effectively if it involves teachers from all disciplines working together on student projects so that learning is more meaningful. However, the challenge to this is that many of our school environments are set up to be “silo” oriented and do not allow for this type of collaboration.
Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future.TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.