Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Material Transformations in Designing 

April 10, 2019 
5:30-7 pm 
Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre, Event Commons Room 103, Mitchell Hall, 69 Union Street W

Register for this free event! 

Where do creative transformations of materials come from? How do designers frame complex problems? In this talk, Dr. Brian Gravel (Tufts University) and Dr. Vanessa Svihla (University of New Mexico) share ways that designers have conversations with materials; sometimes they let the materials guide their designing, and sometimes they transform the materials. In these material conversations, designers seek affordances, make conjectures, negotiate with others, and reframe problems. To illustrate how these support learning, Dr. Gravel & Dr. Svihla share vivid cases from a school-based makerspace, a design-build school, and a creativity course.

This public lecture is open to anyone in the Queen's and Kingston communities as well as local Kingston educators!


Dr. Vanes sa Svihla

Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist, meaning her research seeks to understand how people learn. Her research focuses on: (1) How people learn when they design; and (2) Ways technology can embed authentic assessment without pausing learning She is particularly interested in how people find and frame design problems, and how these activities relate to identity, agency, and creativity. She applies a range of research methods (regression modeling, network analysis, interaction analysis, data mining, design-based research) to understand learning in real world, interdisciplinary and Computer-Supported Collaborative settings. Dr. Svihla was awarded the NSF CAREER award in 2018. Her project, Framing and Reframing Agency in Making and Engineering (FRAME) investigates a new construct, framing agency—having and taking opportunities to make decisions that are consequential to learning and designing. She investigates ways students can develop framing agency, why framing agency matters, and she creates tools for instructors who want to support their students to develop framing agency.

Dr. Brian Gravel

Brian Gravel is an Assistant Professor and Director of Elementary Education in the Department of Education. His research focuses on students' representational practices in science and engineering, and he uses design-based research involving both learning technologies and socio-technical learning environments, like makerspaces, in a number of funded projects. Brian currently studies ways to foster disciplinary engagement and modeling practices through the development of new technologies like SiMSAM. And, he is researching makerspaces as representationally rich learning contexts where we can learn how representations are constructed, used, and revised in service of making objects of personal and community value. These projects include NSF-funded projects STEMLiMS: Investigating STEM Literacies in MakerSpaces, and Engineering Inquiry for All in Nedlam's Workshop. His more recent work explores the intersections of making, computation, and STEM practices to understand how teachers and students can engage in authentic inquiry through Computational Making. See the Re-Making STEM project for more details. Beginning in 2011, Brian and colleagues developed the Elementary STEM M.A.T. program, which prepares elementary school teachers for engaging their students in the practices of science, engineering, and mathematics. The program focuses on (1) work in urban settings by leveraging a strong tradition of urban school partnerships within the Department, and (2) it leverages the ongoing research on STEM at the K-12 level by faculty and graduate students in the Department.