Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 406–417 | Cite as

Electrifying Engagement in Middle School Science Class: Improving Student Interest Through E-textiles

  • Colby Tofel-GrehlEmail author
  • Deborah Fields
  • Kristin Searle
  • Cathy Maahs-Fladung
  • David Feldon
  • Grace Gu
  • Chongning Sun


Most interventions with “maker” technologies take place outside of school or out of core area classrooms. However, intervening in schools holds potential for reaching much larger numbers of students and the opportunity to shift instructional dynamics in classrooms. This paper shares one such intervention where electronic textiles (sewable circuits) were introduced into eighth grade science classes with the intent of exploring possible gains in student learning and motivation, particularly for underrepresented minorities. Using a quasi-experimental design, four classes engaged in a traditional circuitry unit while the other four classes undertook a new e-textile unit. Overall, students in both groups demonstrated significant learning gains on standard test items without significant differences between conditions. Significant differences appeared between groups’ attitudes toward science after the units in ways that show increasing interest in science by students in the e-textile unit. In particular, they reported positive identity shifts pertaining to their perceptions of the beliefs of their friends, family, and teacher. Findings and prior research suggest that student-created e-textile designs provide opportunities for connections outside of the classroom with friends and family and may shift students’ perceptions of their teacher’s beliefs about them more positively.


Science education Electronic textiles Maker movement DIY media Perception of science Interest 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colby Tofel-Grehl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Deborah Fields
    • 1
  • Kristin Searle
    • 1
  • Cathy Maahs-Fladung
    • 1
  • David Feldon
    • 1
  • Grace Gu
    • 1
  • Chongning Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

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