Project Narrative SISTEMAS aspires to increase the number of Latinx Multilingual Learners who pursue STEM careers through the creation of translanguaging immersive learning environments for elementary and middle grades learners. We aim to leverage technology to create immersive, responsive learning environments that provide Spanish speaking students with access to Virtual Vet in order to promote the development of scientific and nutritional literacies that lead students to pursue healthier choices while deepening their science knowledge. The skills, knowledge, and confidence gained through these experiences will increase students’ interest in science, and in pursuing a STEM career, which will ultimately lead to a more diverse STEM workforce.
SISTEMAS The focus of the SISTEMAS proposal is to support and equip underrepresented students, with a particular focus on Latinx Multilingual Learners (LML), to enter the STEM pipeline and persist. The proposal addresses the issue at the beginning of the pipeline, when children often decide whether they can do science and math, and whether they can become future scientists. The research team hypothesizes that if students are exposed to inclusive, strategically designed learning environments in which they develop their scientific literacy and 21st century problem solving skills, more students will consider science as a possible career choice. The project is articulated in four specific aims that include: (1) creating two new versions of Virtual Vet, a narrative rich read aloud version and Spanish version, to reach a more diverse student population with the international, award- winning serious game; (2) developing a new immersive environment, Virtual Vet Middle Grades, that targets a deeper understanding of the human body through the study of genetics; (3) creating a responsive and customized environment in Virtual Vet that leverages deep learning approaches to provide timely feedback to students and teachers; and (4) developing a 5-day STEM camp on the campus of the University of Georgia in the Genetics department to provide inclusive and ambitious science learning experiences specifically supporting LML students by providing instruction in English and Spanish. Through partnership with six school districts, more than 6,000 students will garner access to Virtual Vet and Virtual Vet Middle Grades. This sample size will equip the research team to examine student knowledge, attitudes toward science, interest in pursuing a science field, and students’ mindset toward learning with a particular focus on how novel translanguaging supports equip LML learners to succeed in science in a digital environment.