SellSTEM - Spatially Enhanced Learning Linked to STEM - is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network to investigate the role of spatial ability in and for STEM learning. The team consists of 15 PhD students, their supervisors from 10 universities in Europe and 8 partners that will host the students on secondment. The project runs from Jan 2021 for 48 months and is coordinated by TU Dublin.

About us

SellSTEM will train a new generation of early stage researchers (ESR) to bring fresh thinking to the twin issue of low enrolment and gender imbalance in STEM education and careers by addressing deficits in spatial ability among young people across Europe. 15 ESRs across 10 universities in Europe will be recruited and trained to collect spatial ability data from children in Europe, measure their relation to academic performance and career choice and analyse interaction by gender, region and socioeconomic status. ESRs will create ways to develop spatial ability among children through online learning, tactile activities, integrated with other subjects and through project-based learning including maker space workshop. ESRs will work with teachers and teacher educators to identify barriers and enablers to developing spatial ability so they can provide sustainable classroom solutions to increase the spatial ability of children beyond existing levels. Education policy and curriculum design will be critiqued against latest research on cognitive development. Improved policies and curricula will be produced along with strategies to change teacher education and teaching practice. Guides for teachers to assessing spatial ability and classroom teaching activities for different age groups will be developed so teachers can assess and promote growth in spatial ability especially among girls. SellSTEM ESRs will produce new knowledge and methods to promote spatial development, increase STEM enrolment and reduce gender imbalance and help to open up an important research topic in Europe. In this way, SellSTEM will directly support the EU agenda for growth and jobs both now and into the future.

Why SellSTEM?

The rationale for SellSTEM is based on 3 key findings from research.  First, many countries in Europe and beyond have a twin problem in STEM recruitment: too few young people are enrolling in STEM courses and there is a strong and persistent under-representation of women in STEM education and careers.   Second, spatial ability, a core aspect of cognition is extremely important to STEM learning; spatial ability is strongly associated with success in STEM.  Third, spatial ability is not only underdeveloped among many children in Europe but there is a significant gender gap in spatial ability, most notably in spatial visualization, in favour of males.  The main goal of SellSTEM is to raise spatial ability levels of children across Europe and girls in particular so they are better prepared for the cognitive demands of STEM education, become more successful in STEM learning and migrate in greater numbers with increased balance by gender towards STEM careers.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956124