Dr. Shelly Rodriguez
Where are you located?
The University of Texas
What is your day job?
Associate Professor of Practice, UT Austin – College of Natural Sciences
Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace?
University, K-12, and community-based makerspaces in Austin
What kinds of stuff do you make?
I am the director of UTeach Maker. UTeach Maker is a selective micro-credentialing program that supports STEM preservice teachers in the UTeach program at UT Austin. The program helps our newest educators develop innovative practices and bring maker skills into their STEM classroom. Each preservice teacher has a personal maker mentor, has the opportunity to work in specialized maker internships, and creates a final Maker Showcase as a portfolio of their work.
How did you get started making stuff?
UTeach Maker began in the Fall of 2016 as part of a NSF Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship grant awarded to the UTeach program in the College of Natural Sciences (Award # 1557155). The grant provided funding to help UTeach integrate making into undergraduate coursework and establish the UTeach Maker program.
What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of?
I am very proud that we started with five preservice teachers in our first semester and have since served over 60 future STEM teachers through the UTeach Maker program. I am proud of the diversity of the participants in the program. As of Spring 2020, 62% of the participants are female and over 1/3 of our participants are students of color. I am proud of our recent collaborations with community organizations, other UT departments, and other universities in the Austin area. Finally, I am proud that the lesson from several of our graduates have been published in practitioner journals such as The Science Teacher and Science Scope.
What is next on your project list?
Next on our project list is working with local partners to establish a Maker Educator’s Summit for central Texas educators and students.
What is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet?
While I have started on a small scale, I would like to work with UTeach programs at other universities across the nation to help bring maker education to their preservice teacher preparation programs.
Any advice for people reading this?
If you have an idea that you are passionate about, try it. Don’t let the “maker” label get in your way. Be brave, you can’t get it wrong!