spatial skills

“Sabotage at the Space Station” Robot Lab

Several studies cited in this post by Annie Murphy Paul in the KQED MindShift blog suggest that girls should play more video games to improve their math and especially their spatial skills.  According to research published in Psychological Science, the ability to manipulate shapes is a predictor of creative and scholarly achievements.  High scores in tests of spatial skills also indicate the likelihood of success and innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math, known collectively as STEM.

Spatial abilities can be improved with practice. They can be learned by training; the improvements learned persist over time; and the learning can be applied to tasks that are different than those used in the training.  In fact, a study in the Journal of Cognition and Development suggests that even a twenty minute training session in spatial skills can lead to improvements in solving math problems.

As kids grow older, much of their experience with spatial skills occurs when playing video games.  Boys have traditionally held the edge in spatial ability, but a study by University of Toronto researchers published in Psychological Science finds that playing video games virtually eliminates the gender difference in spatial attention and reduces the gender difference in mental rotation, both key spatial abilities.  Participants in the study with little prior video game exposure experienced large gains in their abilities after only ten hours of play.

Parents allowing their girls to play video games are encouraging them to develop the spatial skills that may help them prepare for brilliant careers as scientists and engineers!

Read the entire post here: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/can-playing-video-games-give-girls-an-edge-in-math/