Costa Rican Ana María Acevedo created a mixed reality experience that seeks to awaken curiosity in topics related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for girls, here she explains how it works:
What is the project about?
“My final project is called Luci Lab and consists of a mixed reality experience for girls between 8 and 10 years old, which seeks to awaken curiosity in topics related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)”.
“With this application they have the opportunity to build physical prototypes and interact with voice-driven augmented reality characters, they can explore in a fun way and work on their self-esteem with the help of Luci, the main narrator”.
“The experience uses interactive Storytelling as a basis to stimulate both physical and digital play, fostering exploration and empowering. The two main components are the app and a brochure, where you can find cardboard templates to build on”.
Who benefits from this initiative?
“The idea is to encourage girls in countries like ours, where gender stereotypes are very strong. It is important to invite girls from an early age to be interested and internalize that these issues are also for them”.
“Eventually in the future, when it comes time to choose a career, keep these options in mind, helping the gender gap in STEM careers to close and thus have more opportunities for decent work. Mainly in more vulnerable communities”.
What phase is it in?
“The project is still a prototype, but it is in an advanced stage. Where the voice interaction with the augmented reality character is programmed and one of the stories already exists in the application, of the rest I only have the topics”.
“I would love to continue working and developing this project, but for that I would need more financial and human resources. I do not rule out the possibility of talking with people interested in investing”.
What prompted you to develop this specific project?
“I was a teacher for several years at the Center for Technology and Visual Arts, in careers related to technology, in general, women in addition to being a minority, on multiple occasions they were also more insecure with their jobs, regardless of whether they were terrific”.
“I became interested in understanding this phenomenon and came across several articles that dealt with these issues. Other factors that drove me were other personal experiences, when the first career in digital animation opened in Costa Rica, there were very few women, jokingly I was also the first woman to graduate in digital animation in the country”.
“Over the years I started my own animation and post production company with three other partners, every time we needed to hire someone most of the portfolios we received were for boys, so I always thought I should do something about it”.
“Are you the first Tica woman to graduate from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design?
“Yes, in 2020 it opens its first headquarters outside Denmark here in Costa Rica. I had the opportunity to lead the Interaction Design Program, we were 27 colleagues from all over the world. We were five Ticos, I was the only woman. Previously in Denmark there were a couple of Ticos running the program, but no women”.
How was your experience at the center?
“It was a super intensive year, the curriculum includes research topics focused on life, design and ethics, programming, among others. Aside from the curriculum, I had the opportunity to work on research projects through collaborations with industry partners such as LEGO and the Facebook Research Lab”.