Whilst previous research has demonstrated that computer simulations can improve STEM learning (D’Angelo et al., 2013), it is important to investigate the importance of providing young children with access to high-quality hands-on educational technologies. Education research has evidenced unique benefits of hands-on experience; however, it is not yet known whether this holds true for a digital domain such as coding. My research aims to address this gap in the literature. This project will examine which factors influence young children’s exposure to STEM concepts (particularly coding) and investigate how implementation of hands-on technologies can facilitate the early learning of STEM concepts and related skills (e.g., logical reasoning, planning, perspective taking).
Project outcomes will be integrated into developing STEM-teaching via the Nuffield research Placement scheme and A Level/Educator conferences at Techniquest, providing contact with Welsh teachers. This is particularly important given the poor performance of Welsh students in recent Pisa tests and below average OECD scores for science in wales.
This project involves a collaboration between Cardiff University, Techniquest and PrimoToys. All partners share the goal of identifying optimal ways for children to learn abstract concepts from hands-on technology.