MMSA has been awarded a National Science Foundation iTEST grant entitled: “Developing rural girls’ STEM competency and motivation through communicating scientific topics with advanced technology”. The grant commenced on August 15, 2017 and runs until July 31, 2020.
You can see the full grant details here.
Engaging girls and young women in science or information and communication technology (ICT) career pathways requires a multi-faceted support system that helps them develop competence, broaden their views of what science entails, deepen their sense of the value and utility of these efforts, and explore their own interests and identities (particularly as they intersect with language, history and the arts). At the same time, emerging technologies, including augmented reality (AR), are changing the ways that science is and can be accessed, communicated, and understood by the public. This ITEST Strategies project addresses the disparity in female participation in science and computer science fields. It focuses on aspects of scientific work (namely communication) that may be more attractive to youth who equate science only with conducting experiments or learning facts. The project targets 112 rural art-oriented young women (15-18 years old and living in Maine) with no prior interest in science. It partners them with scientists and media designers to create AR experiences focused on science questions and issues relevant to their local community and environment. Science, computational thinking, and basic computer programming skills are targeted via science communication that the young women design using AR software. This project contributes to our understanding of the use of AR-based media design to enhance science and computer science interest and confidence of young women who do not see themselves as “science-types,” opening the door for them to consider related career pathways. The project also provides insight into strategies that help scientists communicate effectively with diverse audiences. Overall, it aims to increase the diversity of people considering science and computer science careers and to support opportunities for participation in these fields by underserved girls from rural areas.
The project takes an innovative approach to supporting young women’s competency and motivation for participation in the science and ICT workforce by integrating AR and non-hierarchical learning to focus on aspects of science communication. The project targets 112 rural art-oriented young women (15-18 years old and living in Maine) with no prior interest in science. It partners them with scientists and media designers to create AR experiences focused on science questions and issues relevant to their local community and environment. Science, computational thinking, and basic computer programming skills are targeted via science communication that the young women design using AR software. Research questions include investigating the impact of the AR experiences on young women’s interest in ICT careers, self-efficacy for doing science or becoming a lifelong learner in science, and perspectives on what constitutes doing science research. The impact of the experience on the participating scientists’ attitudes about public engagement in science it also investigated. Methods include both quantitative (e.g., pre- post- instrumentation) and qualitative approaches (e.g., journaling and focus groups). Results will provide evidence on the types of experiences that are productive and meaningful to rural young women as well as ways to expand scientists’ ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, grant #1657217. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.