STEM Education and Mental Health in Children - ON-178

Preferred Disciplines: Education, Psychology or related discipline (Masters, PhD or Post-Doc)
Company: MakerKids
Project Length: 4-6 months (1 unit)
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Toronto, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: None

About the Company: 

MakerKids runs award-winning STEM programs on Coding, Robotics and Minecraft. We use technology as a medium to help build confidence, social skills, change-making abilities and a positive relationship with technology. Kids have started businesses, won prizes from NASA, been published in magazines, and had positive mental health outcomes. 

Project Description:

MakerKids has already seen improved mental health amongst children enrolled in our programming. We want to learn how we can potentially quantify and increase these outcomes.
Children with anxiety - optimizing support and encouragement given to children with diagnoses involving anxiety, to increase their comfort on site and build positive relationships with peers and staff.
Children on the autism spectrum - modifying our approach to ensure that all children can succeed with our curriculum, thrive in our classroom activities and engage with peers and staff.
Neurotypical children - develop programming to help children build life skills that will support positive mental health throughout their lives, from teamwork to perseverance

We recently gave a TEDx talk about Technology Therapy. We want to pioneer this new form of therapy - like art or music therapy but using technology as a medium to help kids build confidence, social skills, changemaking abilities and a positive relationship with technology. Kids have started businesses, won prizes from NASA, and had positive mental health outcomes. Children’s mental health specialists have referred kids to us because of the results they have seen with their clients. We have been contacted by a book publisher regarding a potential book project about our work in this area.

Research Objectives:

  • Improve the accessibility of curriculum and classroom culture
  • Develop content that can be used to promote MakerKids for mental health support in addition to STEM programming
  • Quantify and pioneer Technology therapy

Methodology:

  • Observation and testing of current MakerKids practices to understand the current approaches and outcomes
  • Research and develop recommendations to be put into practice
  • Educate instructors on the implementation of strategies

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Familiarity with children of diverse backgrounds and learning abilities - optimally including previous research into children with exceptionalities
  • Must be able to work independently
  • Confidentiality and discretion when accessing personal information for children, and discussing individuals in research

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
  2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.
Program: