EAGER: Virtual STEM Buddies for Personalizing Learning Experiences in Free Choice Informal Learning Settings


Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn & Kyle Johnsen, Co-PIs. ($150,768) National Science Foundation. EAGER: Virtual STEM Buddies for Personalizing Learning Experiences in Free Choice Informal Learning Settings.

Abstract: We introduce the notion of a virtual STEM buddy (VSB), a visitor-tailored, virtually embodied agent that serves as both a co-learner and a mentor. Like a virtual museum guide, the VSB will be able to engage with child-visitors and their families through a social interface. However, unlike existing approaches, we propose for VSBs to learn and grow alongside children and to engage children through mutual islands of expertise, domain areas that children are passionate about. In these ways the VSBs, complementing the roles held traditionally by only parents and teachers to 1) provide a social experience with each child, 2) help make just-in-time connections to a child’s island of expertise, 3) provide short explanations and directions for interaction with the exhibits, 4) provided ongoing, cumulative knowledge building around a child’s island of expertise, and 5) improve interest in STEM disciplines among those traditionally underrepresented in those fields.

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn 

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