Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to attend my second ever American Education Research Association (AERA) meeting held in Times Square NYC. There, I presented research findings from two studies I've been collaborating on. The first explores the extent to which biodesign activities support student creativity as characterized by the Making field. In other words, we wanted to understand how much biodesign activities would allow students to be creative in learning science. The second study reported on the extent to which portfolios can capture student computer science learning after carrying out an electronic textiles project. Both of these projects reflect emerging science technologies that have the incredible potential to broaden access both in terms of participation and practice. To me, it's incredibly important to provide learning experiences that value the innumerable variety of practices and perspectives that are not only familiar, but also culturally relevant. And so, when we put together genetic engineering (e.g., synthetic biology) activities that allow students to bake a GMO food product, we are saying to students that science can look like a familiar activity and still be cutting edge and supportive of future endeavors.
In any event, I had a few hours of down time from conferencing and I used the opportunity to explore the city. Even though I've been to New York dozens of times, I wanted to walk as much of Manhattan as I could in an afternoon. This personal project was incredible as I found that the city sort of slowed down. In the span of just a few blocks from Battery park, I observed a science research funding protest, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center memorial and a protest led by high school students on school funding. Each of these events was a cultural gem in its own right and yet I would have missed it if I hadn't taken a moment out of the daily hustle to walk and observe. And so, I think as I move forward—onward and upward— I will be more intentional during my travels and take in the world more carefully and thoughtfully as that was as rewarding as being productive. That is all.