Teaching & Learning

Celebrating Pride: Chaos Learning Lab Provides Space and Resources for Queer Youth

To celebrate Pride Month in June, a Utah State Today series is highlighting university employees and students who are conducting research, academic pursuits and other projects related to or that benefit the LGBTQIA+ community.

Colby Tofel-Grehl

Associate Professor of Science Education, School of Teacher Education and Leadership

  • Area of study: STEM Identity Development and Teacher Education

Why is this work important?

“If you look around Utah, there are not very many resources or spaces for queer youth. The LGBTQIA+ maker classes we put together through The Chaos Learning Lab provide that to kids. We are able to study the impacts on youth identity development while providing kids with safe and nurturing environments to be authentically themselves.”

Summary of research:

Tofel-Grehl conducts her research as part of a team within USU’s CHAOS (Culture, History, and Art Originating in STEM) Learning Lab, a group focused on engaging teachers in hands-on, arts-integrated STEM, social studies, and computer science learning. The lab strives to honor the myriad of cultures and identities that teachers and students bring to their school communities.

The Chaos Learning Lab partners with Logan Pride to offer free summer camp and class experiences for LGBTQIA+ youth. These camps and classes provide personally relevant context for foundational scientific concepts, as well as the computer programming skills to engage in data collection and analysis to solve real world problems.

Tofel-Grehl’s research with youth focuses on the activity of Making as a means for youth to explore and express their identities. Because LGBTQIA+ youth in rural places are at higher risk for harm, Tofel-Grehl’s team explores the ways in which location, peers and safety impact LGBTQIA+ youth’s ability to engage with their identities. Tofel-Grehl is joined in this work by a team of researchers that includes Andrea Hawkman, Mario Suarez, Kristin Searle, Beth Macdonald and Raymond Veon.

Learn more about CHAOS Learning Lab’s resources:


Emilie Wheeler
News Director
University Marketing and Communications


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