Developing Identities in Science through Creations Observed in Virtual Reality (DISCOVR) – An Open Access Learning Platform for Youth is a proposed five-year program that explores and creates an open access platform (publicly available and free) for students in grades 4-8, working with informal STEM instructors to access, develop, and share custom virtual reality (VR) content.
DISCOVR’s objective is to foster strong STEM identities in youth with immersive VR learning experiences in informal learning settings by improving educators’ STEM pedagogical content knowledge, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and cultural competency. VR-based content will be available via an open access platform (hosted by UTK) and include guidance on content development to actively engage educators and youth in customized learning.
The project is driven by this research question: How can VR technology foster construction of the STEM identity of 4-H Youth by impacting the development and enhancement of the STEM identity of 4-H Agents?
The DISCOVR team believes that STEM identity, both for 4-H agents and 4-H club members, can be fostered using virtual reality technology through four key components:
- exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM);
- integration of STEM technologies with art and design;
- incorporation of educational methods and pedagogy;
- emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, from senior personnel to our 4-H club participants.