University of Redlands

About the Project

Initiated in November, 2015, the Evaluation of a Model Spatial Thinking Curriculum for Building Computational Skills in Elementary Grades K-5 (Spatial STEM+C) project, is evaluating strategies for building spatial thinking and computational skills in elementary-aged children that underlie success in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Spatial STEM+C is based on emerging research on the role that spatial reasoning plays in supporting STEM success:

  1. Students with greater spatial reasoning abilities perform better in high school and college-level STEM courses, even when controlling for verbal and mathematical abilities;
  2. Spatial reasoning abilities are an important component of the computational thinking skills that lead to success in higher-level STEM courses;
  3. STEM courses serve as gatekeepers for students entering many professional fields; and
  4. Spatial reasoning abilities may be improved through training and educational interventions.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. Document relationships among spatial thinking abilities, computational thinking skills, and mathematical performance in K-5 children;
  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of hands-on activities designed to build spatial thinking abilities in K-5 students; and
  3. Evaluate the impact of spatial thinking training on computational thinking ability and mathematical performance.