Fostering Spaces for Black Joy in STEM-Rich Making and Beyond


  • Ti'Era D Worsley The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • ReAnna S Roby Vanderbilt University



Black joy, informal, makerspace, STEM


What does it mean to express Black joy and loving blackness through STEM-rich making? What does it mean for Black youth in community-based, youth-focused makerspaces to express Black joy and loving blackness? We look at how Black youth alongside their facilitators co-create spaces of Black joy through making. These makerspaces are located at two local Boys and Girls Clubs in the US Midwest and the Southeast. Makerspaces are informal sites where youth are encouraged to work collaboratively while building digital and physical artifacts. As two Black female STEM educators working with Black youth we frame our work in critical race theory. Specifically we draw on the tenets of whiteness as property and counter-narratives. Using critical ethnographic methods, we explore the ways in which Black youth produce counter-narratives that disrupt whiteness as property through STEM-rich making. Data sources include fieldnotes; artifacts, such as youth work; interviews; and video recordings. The first vignette highlights how two Black girls navigate choosing and creating characters using Scratch. The second vignette focuses on a brother and sister duo who center their making on family and their shared maker identity. We then discuss the freedoms afforded to youth with flexible co-designed curriculum with facilitators and how we foster open spaces. We address this special issue’s driving question by asking, How do we, as STEM facilitators, counter anti-blackness in/through STEM by fostering space for Black joy with youth in making?