Project eSPAC3: A Culturally Relevant Approach to Spatial Computational Thinking Skills and Career Awareness through an Immersive Virtual Environment
Project eSPAC3 is an NSF ITEST Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI) proposal that aims to develop upper-elementary Latinx students’ spatial computational thinking skills and awareness in computationally-intensive careers through designing an immersive culturally relevant enactive learning experience in Minecraft: Education Edition (MinecraftEdu), which emphasizes family engagement, near-peer mentorship, peer collaboration, and expert modeling.
Spatial Computational Thinking Skills (SCT) are the ability to abstract key spatial features, to decompose shapes with geometric representation and recognize patterns, and to use programming and computing tools for spatial algorithm design. SCT is increasingly demanded in computationally-intensive industries given the advances in technology innovations such as robotics, virtual realities, and smart geospatial systems.
We bring together a team of learning scientists, educational technologists, and career development experts to create an innovative informal virtual learning program and a unique age-appropriate spatial programming module. Through design-based research, we will explore two research questions: 1) How can an immersive culturally relevant virtual learning experience be designed to support Latinx upper-elementary school students’ spatial computational thinking skill development and career exploration? 2) What are the immediate and sustained impacts of the eSPAC3 program on participating elementary school students, parents, and college students?
The usability studies and feasibility study will inform the iterative design of the learning experience and learning environment; the field study will improve the program delivery model; the pilot study will gather initial evidence of the program efficacy.