SparkSense: Encouraging Tweens to Explore STEM Content Online
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 research project focuses on the development of a game-like Web solution that helps parents encourage tweens, ages 8-12, to use educational content online. Today's tweens spend a lot of time playing games online. A Project Tomorrow study found that only 3% of elementary school students say they do not play video games. This statistic is deeply troubling to many parents. In fact, research indicates that most parents worry more about the impact media, including video games, have on their children than they do about drug use or sexual activity. The project outcome is a Web-based, game-like solution that helps parents encourage and motivate tweens to become consumers of existing educational Web content. Additionally, the project aggregates content from trusted partners and provides a novel incentive system to 'spark' interest in STEM subjects. The research objective is to determine whether the project's tools and interface offer sufficient motivation to stimulate increased interest and learning online.
The project will focus on STEM content and will aggregate that content from previously funded NSF projects. Eventually, the project outcomes can be used to address other disciplines and societal issues. The project's 'trending functionality' will also help parents and children find and expand interest in STEM topics. For example, a parent whose child demonstrates a consistent interest in dinosaurs may not realize how that interest is related to geology and archeology. The algorithm enables that connection and will suggest new challenging activities. Parents will also receive: information about how to discuss and encourage their children's growing interests in STEM subjects; alerts about regional events, such as museum visits and whale watches; and suggestions regarding suitable books and educational products.
Small Business Information at Submission:
52 Maple Pond Lane Duxbury, MA 02332
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