Project Profile

Fostering elementary students' computing career aspirations through a physiological computing curriculum


Every day, advanced applications of physiological computing such as wearable technologies (e.g., smartwatches) and brain-computer interfaces are reshaping our lives and pushing new scientific frontiers. Advancements in the human-technology frontier demand the readiness of next-generation scientists who can further develop and test such technologies. Yet, regions of our nation are experiencing a significant shortage of qualified job candidates. This ITEST design and development project tackles the challenge of workforce development in the state of Alabama, by creating a physiological computing curriculum for upper elementary school children enrolled in afterschool settings. Participating children will measure their own physiological data (such as muscle energy) and design computer programs that react to their data in real time. Through the curriculum and extracurricular activities, the project also exposes participating children and their families to emerging computing careers. By focusing on how participation impacts children’s career aspirations and confidence for learning STEM, the project has the potential to inform current understanding of the barriers, challenges, and successes young learners experience during physiological computing and how their conceptual understanding of foundational computer science concepts evolves.

Anticipating that future generations of engineers and scientists will need skills related to creating computer applications and programs associated with human movements and emotions via electrical activity, this three-year project will develop and iteratively implement a standards-aligned, physiological computing curriculum with a disciplinary literacy approach that encourages career exploration and critical thinking. The project uses design-based implementation research to examine its hypothesis that participation in the physiological computing environment and related career enrichment activities will enhance elementary students’ conceptual understanding of computer science, self-efficacy for learning STEM, and STEM career aspirations. The project aims to enroll over 100 elementary students and prepare 20 (in-service and pre-service)


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Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2024 - 2027
The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
Project Status