STEM and ICT Instructional Worlds: The 3D Experience (STEM-ICT 3D)
A coalition of Carolina universities, school districts, state agencies, and businesses called the Carolinas Virtual World Consortium are promoting the use of 3 dimensional technologies in STEM education in middle schools through this ITEST strategies project. Middle school students attend summer workshops to learn about 3D modeling and design of virtual worlds, teachers join the students during the second week of workshops to learn about 3D technologies and how they can be implemented in the curriculum. Regional experts share real world problems with teachers and students to generate possibilities for development of a 3D immersive world. Students serving as technical experts and teachers as curriculum and instruction experts then team to develop applications of virtual technologies for STEM instruction over the course of the project. The goals of the above activities are to engage teachers in continuous STEM learning, interest students in pursuing STEM careers, and preparing students with the skills necessary to succeed in STEM. This project is based in educational literature and in a pilot study with students in sixth grade using 3D immersive technology to communicate information on explorers and exploration. The literature and the findings point to students improving engagement, communication, collaboration, use of information tools, STEM knowledge gain, and creating diverse communities of learners working on solutions to real-life problems. STEM content is expanded in this project by adding experts in science, technology, and engineering to the leadership team. Formative and summative evaluation of the objectives of the project is guided by a series of questions and data and evidence is collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods.