E-MINT: A Gamified App for Empowering Parents in Their Role as STEM Gatekeepers
When it comes to initiatives engaging children - especially girls - in STEM education or careers, parents are often a neglected group, despite being regarded as the most important gatekeepers in this field because they can have an impact very early on. They frequently feel under-informed and, as a result, lack the self-confidence to take on this role. The E-MINT project starts here and aims to motivate parents and equip them with the skills to serve as role models and mentors to their children.
The Science Capital approach, a proven successful framework for creating awareness, fostering motivation and imparting knowledge in the context of science education, serves as the structural basis of the E-MINT app. This especially applies to the content and functionalities of the app, which is divided into four areas:
“What you know”. In this section, parents are encouraged to explore their own knowledge of STEM professions, gender stereotypes, career choices, educational pathways and future technologies.
“How you think”. In this part of the app, career aspirations, behaviour in different situations or thoughts about the future are told in short picture stories.
“What you do”. The app provides free access to virtual E-MINT Makerspaces. Parents can use the app to complete projects on 3D printing, environmental technology and upcycling at home.
“Who you know”. In this section of the app, parents are encouraged to use their own personal social network to improve their skills as STEM gatekeepers for their children. They are guided step by step through a social network analysis with the aim of visualising their personal STEM networks and finding ways to expand it.
The pre-survey showed parents to be well informed. Parents were most likely to lack information about new technologies and STEM education. In the post-survey, the usability of the app was rated as very good. The comparative survey on parents' STEM knowledge showed slight changes. Parents in the post-survey knew more about training opportunities for STEM professions, about the disproportion of men and women in technical professions and the importance of gender stereotypes for career decisions. Parents' views also changed slightly in the post-survey. Specifically, their attitudes towards computer games, which they now see as having more potential to increase children's digital curiosity, and they see computer games more as a gateway into technical professions.
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