Spatial STEM+C addresses a significant challenge in preparing elementary-aged children to enter the STEM workforce in coming decades: developing visuospatial and computational skills that underlie success in gatekeeping high school and college STEM courses. Visuospatial skills have been documented to vary by gender and may be influenced by socioeconomic factors. By developing instructional and assessment strategies that work particularly well for students who lag behind in visuospatial and academic abilities at key grade levels, Spatial STEM+C applies educational justice theory to help children achieve equal access to quality instruction, resources, and other educational opportunities.
The goal of the Spatial STEM+C project is to iteratively develop and evaluate supplemental instructional activities that build early computational skills in elementary-aged children. The project will accomplish this goal by improving the children’s innate capacities for spatial thinking. Iterative development of the curriculum over a two-year period will be complemented with a comparison group study of spatial and computational thinking development and achievement. Formative evaluation conclusions from the curriculum development process and research findings from the comparison group study will be used to refine the activities into a format that can be integrated into formal instruction at a partnering school district, disseminated and evaluated nationally, and built into in-service and pre-service teacher education programs at the University of Redlands in California.
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Funded by the National Science Foundation
This material was based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1543204. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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Tangram portion of the Spatial STEM+C logo adapted from a graphic by Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons