A 2018 Collaboration with
Agency by Design Oakland


The Project

Maker programs are being established in more and more schools. We believe that Repair’s problem-solving, materials exploration, design orientation, and systems thinking align exquisitely with Maker curricula, structures and objectives.

Repair Turbocharges Making.

In August 2018 The Culture of Repair Project began collaborating with Agency by Design Oakland to develop approaches to productively integrating Repair into their well-established Maker-Centered Learning program.

The core objective of the initiative was to develop an approach to integrating Repair into Maker-Centered Learning that — designed out of classroom experience and informed by wide-ranging research — both enriches maker programs and supports teachers’ on-the-ground reality.

The Project offered Mini-Grants to AbD Oakland Teacher Fellows for the 2018/2019 school year to support their exploration of the relationship between Repair and maker-centered learning in the K-12 classroom.

Classroom results are impressive! (Details are below.)

Outcomes from the Mini-Grant program contributed materially to the design and content of the 2019 Maker Ed / Agency by Design Oakland / Culture of Repair collaboration. Details are here.


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Agency by Design

Supported by the Abundance Foundation, Agency by Design (AbD) was a multiyear research initiative by Harvard University Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences. Agency by Design Oakland was the principal research and implementation site of Agency by Design.

"Educational initiatives that emphasize making, design, engineering, and tinkering have been gaining traction in schools and organizations across the country. While maker-centered learning is not a new concept, recent and emerging trends suggest a new kind of hands-on pedagogy—a responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, and crossing boundaries."

AbD Oakland Mission: "All learners have the potential to be empowered change makers in our democracy. Agency by Design offers a path to use maker-centered learning to support equity, student success, critical thinking, joyful school culture, and a shift to learner-driven practice. Our mission is to redefine what learning looks like in schools through maker-centered education."



Mini-Grant Program

With the objective of exploring the relationship between repair and maker-centered learning in the K-12 classroom, the Culture of Repair Project made twelve Mini-Grants in the 2018 / 2019 school year. (Mini-Grant details follow below.)

Reports and evaluations are due in June, but as of April two teacher-fellows had already posted information and reflections about their classroom experience (see below).


The Art of Repair — A Middle School Elective Class

Shraddha Soparawala (Sopar), 2018 Math Teacher, Ascend Middle School, Oakland developed a year-long, once-a-week Repair elective for Ascend Middle School. Her blog post The Art of Repair recounts her and her students’ experiences, and her thoughts and plans going forward.

A 6th grade class at a public Oakland elementary school explored repair in the fall of 2018.

A 6th grade class at a public Oakland elementary school explored repair in the fall of 2018.


“My intention in creating a repair related elective was to promote a problem-seeking and problem-solving sensitivity in my students. I want students to see something breaking or something not working as an opportunity."

Shraddha Soparawala


“My hope is that students are using skills of repair they learn in the elective to do repair work at home and around our school. I also hope that as we work and conflicts emerge that we can use our “Principals of Repair” to also mend relationships.”

Shraddha Soparawala

Making and Mending

In the context of the recent strike and the complexity of Oakland, AbD Oakland fellows are creatively expanding the “art of repair” beyond physical objects to include community healing. Reporting to the Project Zero parent initiative, AbD Oakland wrote, “The theme of making as healing is also present through our involvement in the Culture of Repair mini-grants program.”

AbD Oakland teacher fellows explored Repair in their September 2018 workshop. Reflections were followed by a hands-on project. Senior AbD Fellow Susan Wolf reported on the workshop in her blog post Making and Mending (Alameda County Office of Education Integrated Learning Department, 2018-2019 Agency by Design Oakland Senior Fellow).

“Navigating the complexities of a broken educational system, we must be many things beyond our credentials, and we are often times left feeling exhausted. When our learning spaces shift their focus toward repair and mending, a door is opened...”

“Reflecting on the results of this figurative process of making and mending, I once again see “mending the impossibly broken” as a perfect metaphor for educators navigating complex, broken systems. The materials are limited and janky. There is no predictable outcome. It is an invitation to muck about — an invitation that becomes a magical moment of healing.”

Susan Wolf

AbD Oakland teacher fellows reflected on Repair at their September 2018 workshop.

AbD Oakland teacher fellows reflected on Repair at their September 2018 workshop.


Repair Mini-Grants Program
Established in August 2018

Funded by The Culture of Repair Project, twenty mini-grants of up to $500 are now available to present and past Agency by Design Oakland Teacher Fellows, and their school site colleagues, to explore the relationship between repair and maker-centered learning in the K-12 classroom.

"Repair is a Revolutionary Act." - Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO


Where does repair intersect with maker-centered learning? K-12 educators are invited to experiment and tinker with their curriculum and consider where repair might intersect with their classroom objectives. Design and implement a new unit, host a family event, collaborate with a colleague, learn a skill, or make a project idea come to life. Some areas to dig into: systems thinking, understanding design, functionality, scavenging to repair, creative repair to reuse, e-waste, the systems of stuff, designing for obsolescence, the intersection of culture and repair, agency, ancestral making and ancestral repair, the subjective relationship with materials and objects, capitalism and repair, circular economy, developing a sensitivity to design, engaging students in fixing stuff in our classrooms, environmental sustainability, the intersection of repair and maker identity, how to fix your electronics, your clothes, your furniture, and more.

Please read through the Culture of Repair website and explore the Resources section for more ideas, or reach out to an Agency by Design Oakland Leadership Team Member for a thought partner.


●      These funds will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

●      To apply, please fill out this short Application Form. The first round of notifications will go out August 24th, 2018. Applications received after August 24th will be reviewed immediately and you will hear back within 5 business days.

●      Funds will be dispersed as reimbursements through the Oakland Public Education Fund. Save all of your receipts.

●      There are no restrictions on fund usage. Funds can be used for tools, supplies, to hire an outside expert, planning or collaboration time, professional development learning experiences, or other.

●      Educators are eligible for more than one mini-grant. Larger projects may be eligible for Culture of Repair grants up to $5,000. Please speak with the leadership team about this opportunity.

●      Recipients will be asked post-project implementation to share reflections on what they tried out, how they tinkered with the concept of repair in their curriculum, and whether and how repair enriched maker-centered learning. Please be prepared to share one or more visual pieces of documentation.



For more information about The Culture of Repair Project’s work with educators: Schools

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