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Nuffield research placement: Make a Maker Project

by Samar Mutini

My name is Samar Mutini and I am an A level student in the sixth form at King Edward VII School in Sheffield. I study Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics and I am hoping to study Dentistry at university. I have been put on a placement with Nuffield in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield where I have been involved with the Make A Maker project with Dr Louise Kay.

The aim of the Make a Maker project is to develop a maker curriculum framework and maker home learning package for primary schools focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). Children are taught key skills and knowledge that need to be acquired in order to become a confident and competent maker. The University of Sheffield has been working in collaboration with Arbourthorne primary school to develop this curriculum and associated resources.

The aim of this project was to answer these research questions:

● How does the Maker{Futures} curriculum support the development of children’s transversal skills and STEAM learning?

●How effective are the resources used in the Maker{Futures} sessions in supporting the development of children’s transversal skills and STEAM learning?

However my personal aim was to find out what research looks like at university. It was really interesting how qualitative and quantitative research differ from each other and how data is gained from both.

What did I do for my placement?

In the first week of my placement I attended an end of year Maker celebration event at Arbourthorne school. The Maker {Move} van parked in the school field and all the tables were taken out where a range of STEAM activities were set out. I assisted the Maker team in setting up the activities and helping the children with the activities.

We then interviewed the children in small focus groups to capture their voices and opinions on their experiences and perspectives of the Maker curriculum. We asked them a series of planned questions which all of the children enthusiastically responded to and confidently expressed their opinions on the maker spaces and the progress they have made throughout the year in their maker sessions. We recorded these focus group sessions on a voice recording app via a phone. Before we did this we made sure that the children were comfortable with participating in the focus groups and had given their written and verbal consent. After collecting this data I transcribed the audio by using an audio to text translator app and by listening to the audio to correct any errors in the transcript.

Research outcomes

After collecting all the data and writing up the transcripts, I was shown how to carry out a thematic analysis. The themes that we identified were technical language, motivation, challenges and problem solving. By the end of the research project I understood that the children are very enthusiastic about their learning and are ready to give feedback on their experiences.

Placement outcomes

This project was not what I initially wanted for my work experience with Nuffield as I am planning to pursue a career in the physical sciences and this project was based around social science. It might have not been what I imagined, however I still gained many skills and saw new perspectives on different topics that I would not have seen if not for this experience. I learnt about the amount of effort and organisation required to set up projects like this one. I also had the opportunity to sit in on a conference where there were many people presenting their research on various topics; I found this experience very insightful as I got to see many different people from different backgrounds talk about problems relevant to me and the people around me. The biggest challenge for me was getting my words together to write my 3000 word report as I haven’t written such a large piece of work for a few years. If I was to give advice to the next Nuffield students, I would say enjoy the whole experience and make sure to do all the writing as soon as possible!

Dr Louise Kay is Director of the Sheffield EdD programme and also teaches across BA and MA programmes in the School of Education.



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Education Matters

Education Matters

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