The TU Dublin project aims to improve spatial ability among young people in Europe, to better prepare them for learning STEM subjects.

Dr Gavin Duffy, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, TU Dublin, active researcher in the area of spatial ability in STEM education.

Dr Gavin Duffy, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, TU Dublin, an active researcher in the area of spatial ability in STEM education.

Research has shown that high spatial ability is important for success in STEM learning. Research also reveals that a large gender gap exists in spatial ability in favour of males, with the result that women are more disadvantaged in STEM learning.

There is a move to close this gender gap by enhancing the spatial ability of young people, particularly young females.

Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) has secured over €4M in HORIZON 2020 funding for an international research project which aims to do just that – to enhance spatial ability, thus helping to close the gender gap in STEM.

The multi-agency project, Spatially Enhanced Learning Linked to STEM (SellSTEM), has been awarded €4.12M in funding from the Marie Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network under Horizon 2020, an EU 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness

SellSTEM is a consortium of ten European Universities and eight non-academic partners. It will recruit and train 15 PhD students to develop innovative and practical approaches to improve spatial ability among young people in Europe, so they are better prepared for learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Dr Gavin Duffy, TU Dublin, explains:

“SellSTEM will train researchers to collect spatial ability data from children in Europe to measure it against academic performance and career choice and analyse the interaction by gender, region, and socioeconomic status,”

“Our researchers will also develop methods to foster spatial ability among children through online learning, tactile activities, maker-space workshops, project-based learning, and integrated with the STEM curriculum.”

“They will work with teachers and teacher educators to identify barriers and enablers to developing spatial ability so they can provide sustainable classroom solutions to raise the spatial ability of children above existing levels.

“SellSTEM brings fresh thinking to promoting STEM education and careers, including addressing the gender gap in STEM enrolment, thereby enabling Europe to achieve its agenda for growth and jobs.”

Members of the SellSTEM consortium include:

Technological University Dublin
Technische Universiteit Delft
Bangor University
Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet – NTNU
Latvijas Universitāte
Universiteit Leiden, Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg – PLUS,
Universität Regensburg 
Universität Koblenz-Landau
Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan – KTH

Microsoft Ireland Operations
Stichting VHTO
SAP Service and Support Centre
Ionad Oideachais Mhuineacháin
De Galan School Voor Training
Science Hub TU Delft
Marino Institue of Technology
Stichting Waag Society
VHTO, National Expert Organisation on Girls/Women and Science/Technology, Netherlands