An online game-based learning system for STEM knowledge and role models: the masters of STEM project

Lachlan MacKinnon, Olaf Hallan Graven, Liz Bacon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Masters of STEM project seeks to excite young people about the positive impact of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) research and innovation, both throughout history and in the current day, and to introduce and reinforce positive role models from the STEM community. The purpose is to promote broader knowledge of STEM and the impact it has had on society, and to encourage more young people to undertake higher education and follow careers in STEM. The project already has partners in Europe, USA and Brazil, and continues to grow the partnership and funding base. At the core of the project is the development and deployment of an online game platform, supporting users playing short game scenarios developed by the project, and allowing them to develop their own scenarios utilising characters developed by the project to represent the role models we identify, the Masters of STEM. The game platform will support multi-lingual versioning, and role models will be identified and characterised for the scenarios at both global and local level. Rules and constraints will be applied at character level to ensure the scenarios developed by users are within acceptable limits of behaviour and activity. A number of types of scenarios will be developed, offering interest and engagement for users of all ages, from infant to adult, and this will permit the development of a user community generating their own content for the platform. The project will disseminate these outcomes widely throughout the world, particularly through the schools networks. To achieve this, websites will be developed by the project partners providing localised information on STEM activities, careers and opportunities in different regions. This will permit the development of region-specific linguistic and cultural representation of information, and identification of role models, both real and media-generated. Information on these role models will feed through to the game platform, which will be linked to these websites to provide both general and region-specific scenarios. The project partners will also use online surveys to capture information on young peoples attitudes towards STEM, positive views on characters from the STEM community, and interest in games. Initial work on the games platform has already begun, based on the Unity games engine and existing work on the scenario-authoring tool from the Pandora+ platform. Contact has been established with a number of media groups to ascertain the potential to use media characters as STEM role models, e.g. Big Bang Theory & CSI characters, and, where possible, real individuals will be approached to give their permission for their images and stories to be used in the system. Historical characters should not require such permissions, but the project will ensure that all characters are treated with respect, and the system will not permit inappropriate scenarios to be generated. User evaluation of the system will be sought continuously through feedback surveys, frequency of use measures, and user ratings. Impact measures will be established by agreement with the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2015
EditorsCarlton Watson
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781910810255, 1910810258
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event10th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2015 - Nassau, Bahamas
Duration: 25 Jun 201526 Jun 2015


Conference10th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2015


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