• Monica’s STEM journey began with her love for patterns as a child and her love for playing with science at the Exploratorium. She also worked on math proofs during informal "kitchen conversations" with her dad. As an undergraduate, she majored in mathematics and minored in English. She then spent time teaching physical education to preschoolers, substitute teaching math and science at a middle school, tutoring high students and adults in English as a Second Language, and tutoring technical college students in math and ESL as part of the AmeriCorps program.

    She is committed to pursuing and promoting racial justice, equity, and dignity but recognizes she still has much to learn. Monica’s research and teaching interests focus on engineering design, mathematical thinking, and computational thinking across formal and informal settings. She is particularly interested in human-centered approaches to design. Monica is also interested in what we can learn from parents and families about the ways that they support learning and engagement in engineering and other STEM activities.

    She has investigated this through studies of practicing professionals, undergraduate students and educators, middle school students, elementary school teachers and students, and children and families, primarily through video analysis and open-ended interviews. This work is done in partnership, most recently with colleagues from Purdue, Imagination Station of Lafayette, the National Society for Black Engineers, TERC, University of Iowa, University of Notre Dame, University of Washington, Virginia Tech, and several elementary schools.

research interests

  • • Engineering design, from preschool to professional practice
    • Engineering learning in informal settings, particularly in the context of family interactions
    • Computational thinking, particularly amongst early learners
    • Assets-based approaches in STEM education

selected scholarly works & creative activities

full name

  • Monica Cardella