Math and Computational Thinking through 3D Making (MPACT) brings the excitement of 3D modeling and printing to grades 4-7 classrooms. Central to STEM work, uses of 3D technology expand daily, with applications in everything from medicine to housing to agriculture. MPACT provides young people opportunity to learn about this technology and become fluent in its use. MPACT is designed to support content learning— of important mathematics, spatial reasoning, and computational thinking—through student engagement in design and making projects. Youth who have used our early drafts have responded enthusiastically and designed beautiful and useful objects, such as dice for board games to be played by the visually impaired and the sighted together. MPACT is flexibly designed to support teachers and students during uncertain times: projects can be implemented in classroom contexts using program-provided 3D printers or in distance learning environments using materials easily found around the house.
MPACT curriculum materials are in the form of supplementary replacement units that increase in length and complexity. Every module engages students in the design and making process, integrating grade level mathematics (symmetry, measurement, volume, and/or probability), spatial reasoning, and computational thinking. All classroom and technology-aided distance learning modules make use of free TinkercadTM design software, a classroom 3D printer, and correspondence with an industry mentor to support students’ career awareness. An additional low-tech module is designed for use at home and structured for family participation. At the study’s conclusion, all MPACT curricular and supplemental materials will be made available, free of charge, on our website.
The MPACT Evaluation
The MPACT evaluation aims to understand program effectiveness and support continuous improvement through teacher implementation and reflection. The study grant will fund approximately 55 MPACT fellows to participate in both professional development and data collection during the 2020¬¬-21 and 2021-22 school years. The grant will also fund approximately 35 teachers to participate in data collection during the 2021-22 school year and professional development during the 2022-23 school year. Participating teachers will instruct grade 4-7 students in California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. SRI researchers will learn about MPACT’s implementation and impact through teacher and student questionnaires and (if conditions allow) visits to schools and classrooms.
MPACT was designed and professional development will be provided by TERC. TERC is a nonprofit made up of teams of math and science education and research experts headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. TERC’s experienced MPACT team is led by co-Project Director Jennifer Knudsen, a veteran curriculum and mathematics professional development provider and former mathematics teacher.
SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) is an independent, nonprofit research institute based out of Menlo Park, California. The SRI team is led by Project Director Nicole Arshan, PhD.