Project Steminist: tackling inequality on a global stage

Two students from the City of Glasgow College are the first in Scotland to present their work at a prestigious international educational conference.

Bunmi Onanuga and Laura Phillips showcased their pioneering computer game, Eco City, at the International STEM Students’ Forum in Hong Kong.

We chatted to Laura and Bunmi, who shared their experiences of the conference and how they are helping to tackle inequality on a global stage:

The VTC International Student Symposium in Hong Kong attracts student from around the world, the students are selected by the organisers who are looking for the best and brightest students to showcase their ideas and inventions which could have a positive impact on the global community.

As we were the first team from Scotland to have ever been chosen to present in the competition, we were greatly honoured by the privilege and opportunity.

Our project is a web-based game which aims to tackle the significant and global gender imbalance in STEM occupations. It is estimated that women represent a mere quarter of the existing STEM workforce (EQUATE) and the proportion of young women studying engineering and physics has remained stagnant since 2012 (PISA).

A highly numerate, digitally skilled, capable and empowered workforce with a global outlook is thus required to rebalance the economy and provide the sufficient supply of individuals with STEM skills to meet and increase demands.

Inspired by two of the United Nations development goals, gender equality and education; Eco City aims to improve levels of STEM enthusiasm, skills and knowledge among young learners. We would also like to raise aspirations and increase engagement with important social issues such as diversity, inclusion, climate change and sustainability.

Eco City has been designed to increase the awareness of the required skills for STEM-related occupations, whilst simultaneously highlighting the importance of equality, diversity and inclusiveness. During game play, learners manage resources, solve problems, invest in staff training and adopt the perspective of different STEM professionals when managing the construction of a virtual floating city.

"Inspired by two of the United Nations development goals, gender equality and education; Eco City aims to improve levels of STEM enthusiasm, skills and knowledge among young learners."

Eco City can be used as an interactive, immersive and engaging teaching tool and has the capacity to support learning the basic instincts for interaction, competition and imagination. It is our aim that Eco City will become a valuable teaching tool used by a global network of young people educators.

During the competition, Eco City received a lot of interest from students and educators who are keen to see how Eco City develops; we will continue to improve our game by gaining valuable user feedback throughout the year.

As well as our work on Eco City we are continuing to develop and create solutions which we hope will have a positive and lasting impact on the wider community.

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