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Thursday / December 14
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Linda Kekelis is the founder and former CEO of Techbridge, a national nonprofit that offers afterschool STEM programs for girls. Over the years Techbridge expanded from activities that were more prescriptive with step-by-step directions like kit building to open-ended and girl-directed projects. Making has been important for this journey that both enriches the learning experiences of girls and adult facilitators. Linda consults on programs and research related to STEM, particularly on how to increase access for youth and families from underserved communities.

Jean is a senior researcher at the Exploratorium of San Francisco. Jean works closely with the Tinkering Studio to build research-practice partnerships with local organizations to examine what students learn through making, what pedagogical practices support rich STEM learning, the types of professional development supports teachers need to thrive, and how to bridge learning across informal and formal education. Jean is a co-PI on the Research + Practice Collaboratory project funded by the National Science Foundation (DUE-1626365).

Linda and Jean Learning Together: Our Research + Practice Partnership
We met through the California Tinkering Afterschool Network (CTAN), which is a collaborative partnership of researchers and practitioners committed to supporting youth in STEM through making and tinkering. Techbridge was one of four after-school programs in CTAN, which is hosted in the Center for Informal Learning and Schools at the Exploratorium. Collaboration was woven into the work; from the start we were involved as partners in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. This partnership provided an opportunity for us to study STEM-rich making and learning in afterschool in order to understand making from the perspective of different groups of girls and also understand the professional development needed to create a safe learning space for youth. Our project was funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and National Science Foundation (DUE-1626365). Watch our recent video about the project and our findings at the NSF STEM for All 2016 Video Showcase.