The STEM-101 for parents
Technologies such as artificial intelligence have found their way into our everyday lives: We have long been familiar with search engines, navigation systems and recommendations in online shops or streaming services. These technologies are developing at breakneck speed.
In order for children to be able to participate in these developments and help shape technologies in adulthood, the course must be set early on. However, although professions in computer science and the natural sciences promise a secure future, too few young people still choose a career in this field. This is especially true for girls and young women. There are many reasons for this, such as the still prevalent prejudice that technology is not for girls.
The Viennese EdTech company ovos developed an informative and playful app for parents as part of a research project. The E-MINT project is researching how parents can expand their role model function in the STEM field and what support they need for this. The app helps parents who have little or no connection to STEM fields to build up the necessary skills and thus tries to get them excited about the subject.
What parents will find in the app
The app is simple and entertaining for parents: In short comics, they learn more about themselves, their knowledge about and attitude towards STEM topics and how they – unconsciously – influence their children, for example through the choice of toys, clothes, the design of the children’s room or through joint activities. With a network analysis, parents can identify who in the environment can support them in fostering their children’s digital curiosity.
The app can be downloaded for free from the app store or tried out at https://e-mint.app.ovosplay.com/.
About ovos: Playing as serious activity
Ovos creates playful training, learning games and web solutions for businesses and educational institutions. “It is a big misconception that playing is a waste of time. Playing is a valuable and serious activity in which those playing learn through a change of perspective and experience,” explains Jörg Hofstätter, one of the managing directors of ovos. The ovos team understands the power of storytelling. They see themselves as packaging designers who cast learning content in stories in which the target groups can find themselves. In this way, content can be conveyed in a low-threshold and interactive way.
An example: Ovos developed a cyber security quiz for secondary school level 1 (5th-8th grade), which is available free of charge. In the quiz, children learn in a playful way how to recognise malware, how to protect their privacy and what to do against hate on the net.
We asked Jörg Hofstätter
Why does STEM have such a hard time?
There are many different reasons. The socio-economic background and the values of the family play a big role, also because IT, for example, is a relatively “young” field. Old patterns, such as gender stereotypes, are deeply rooted. STEM interests are often not only not encouraged, but also prevented, for example by parents pushing girls into “girls’ professions”.
The app was founded on the basis of the Science Capital – what is it all about?
The E-MINT app is divided into four parts, which are based on the concept of the “Science Capital”. Science Capital is like a backpack of STEM knowledge, attitudes, actions and acquaintances that you carry around with you. The concept explains why some people feel closer to STEM subjects than others. Children with a large Science Capital are more likely to pursue a career in the field.
With this basis, the app goes further than just fuelling interest, but tries to anchor the STEM topic more deeply with parents. It shows them what they already know about STEM and what role models they already have in their environment. Social factors play a big role in Science Capital. That’s why we also tell stories about data scientists, AI researchers and e-gamers in the app, so that parents can identify with them and see what promising careers there are in the STEM field.
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