In this work we suggest to harness the power of knowledge-seeking positive experiences, engagement, and curiosity that objects perceived as magical carry in themselves by combining them with pop-cultural references and neuroscience in order to derive a novel intervention to foster a growth mindset in children of 8-12 years old. We created “The Thinking Cap 2.0," a wearable system in the form-factor of masks, tiaras, or helmets from different sci-fi universes like Star Wars or Avengers, fitted with a commercially available electroencephalography (EEG) headset or headband and a Bluetooth speaker. We adopt the form-factor towards the preferences of the child, which universe or hero is being their favorite one.
We designed and conducted a first study with 50 children to investigate the effect of using “The Thinking Cap” to foster children’s mindset. In the case of our study we assessed the mindset and self-esteem of the children of 8-12 years old before and after the “intervention” using the "Cap" in order to see if any changes in the self-perception of the children could be observed and if the "Cap" helps children gain more self- confidence in their capabilities to solve math problems. The "Cap" uses Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) algorithms to recognize mental imagery of the child pre-trained for a 2-class choice problem. In an initial phase, the "Cap" is used to recognize and report on the brain patterns of the user. We believe that demonstrating such basic recognition of brain signals will lead the child to develop trust in the hat’s ability to “know them." Thus, when the "Cap" in a later phase praises the child who wears it for their ability and/or effort on a task, the child is likely to listen to it and be affected by its suggestions in their subsequent performance. We hypothesized that using the "Cap" can thus lead to fostering growth mindset.
Our results suggest that interacting with a “Cap” (limited by classification accuracy and recording factors) has a positive impact on children’s mindset as expressed through their communicated beliefs and task- based behaviors. Though our study should be considered and treated as a preliminary proof-of-concept, the results suggest a possibly provocative new kind of relationship and interaction paradigm between children and a wearable EEG system, enhanced by perceived magic and cultural references.
Find out more about the first version of the system, "The Thinking Cap" here.
Check the video presentation of this work from The ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) conference 2020.