The FunWorks is a dynamic digital library designed by and for youth that supports career exploration in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Created in an engaging multimedia format, the FunWorks Web site consolidates information, activities, interactive games, and other resources tied to an array of career choices including Music, Technology, Art/Design, Medicine/Law, Sports, and Exploration. This resource gives young people the opportunity to pursue their interests and make meaningful connections to careers. The FunWorks was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Career Exploration, Science, Math, Multimedia/Digital Literacy, Engineering, Art/Drama/Music
Health/Wellness, Life & Social Skills
Grades/Ages: Ages 11–15
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Publication Date: 2005-2006
The FunWorks was created to address the need for contextual career resources targeted at middle school youth. To meet this need most effectively, the developers involved young people in refining the concept, culling resources for the collection, designing the Web site, and testing usability. The result is a colorful web interface that is written directly to young people. It offers multiple points of entry, including links to games and various career choices. If they like, users can take a short quiz to assess their interests and aptitude in different fields. The system generates a list of career choices for them to explore, in order of relevance, based on their responses.
- Activity Types: online research, self-directed games
- Materials/technology required: Computer with Internet access
- Program Length/Duration: Self-determined—varies
- Site Adoption: School districts, including middle and elementary school teachers and counselors, and afterschool educators were involved in pilot testing and report using the resource.
- Special considerations: As a digital library, the FunWorks features activities, games, and other resources that are typically hosted on external sites. It is important to be aware of issues of Internet safety, given that youth will be navigating beyond the site itself.
This resource employs experiential learning strategies to engage a diverse audience of youth. The career choice pages provide a brief summary of the types of work people do, then ask users to answer questions about what they like in order to see if their interests match the career opportunity. This process of self-reflection taps young people’s passions and cultivates their investment in career exploration. The specific examples of job responsibilities and "cool facts" about the work provide real-world context that is compelling for youth. In addition, the featured games offer young people a chance to have fun while they learn about different dimensions of work in STEM careers.
Consideration of Special Student Populations
The FunWorks places particular emphasis on engaging currently under-represented populations in STEM education and careers—females, minority populations, low-income youth, and those with disabilities.
A text-only version of the FunWorks Web site makes the content accessible to users with disabilities.