SPATIAL: driving gender equity in STEM education through visuospatial gameplay.
The UK has a severe STEM skills shortage costing the economy £1.5bn annually, which is exacerbated by women comprising only one-quarter of UK STEM workers. An overlooked driver of this discrepancy lies with visuospatial skills--the ability to imagine and manipulate objects in the mind’s eye.
Schools virtually don’t teach them, and girls engage less than boys in the hobbies that train them, but these skills are foundational to success in STEM. Training students can even out girls’ scores with boys’, increase their interest in STEM, and improve all students' grades.
SPATIAL is an escape room-style, visuospatial training game for children up to age 13. Students solve a series of spatial puzzles to unlock keys and relics to progress through historical-themed missions.
Research has shown that hands-on learning is particularly effective at training visuospatial reasoning. However, digital platforms are needed to streamline progressive learning, automate assessment and tracking, and prove the training impact. This project has been an exploration of using technology to blend the physical and digital worlds for an optimised learning experience.
SPATIAL uses the camera on students’ laptops to track physical objects, which serve as the game controllers and correspond to objects on the screen. Students solve puzzles by rotating or moving these real-world objects. This enables students to hold hundreds of activities in just one hand and learn through tangible play.