The National Science Foundation is spending nearly $800,000 on a video game where middle school students can pretend they have a STEM career.
The Language Express Inc., a software design company in San Diego, received a grant to develop and test the video game earlier this year.
"Emerging technologies, such as educational videogames, have the potential to increase the accessibility of learning materials, promote readiness and knowledge of employment options, and improve students' attitudes toward full-time employment," according to the grant. "Unfortunately, the lack of an accessible, coherent career planning system in the United States has left many high school students unprepared to meet the rigorous demands associated with being college and career ready."
The video game will be designed to teach life skills needed for a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.
The company received $746,756 for the project, which is estimated to continue until February 2019.
The video game will be designed to give middle school students career training, with the assistance of a "virtual mentor" who can provide financial advice.
"During the project, participants will experience mini-games related to their daily living skills, a ‘day in the life' of a person in a STEM career, and social skills that those allow individuals to interpret different cultures in a STEM environment," the grant states.
The game will be beta tested in public schools on students in grades six through nine.