Many of the terms we use on this site may be new or unfamiliar to you. In some cases, these terms may carry different meanings for different people. This glossary aims to provide some clarity around how we use terms on this site. It is not our intention to define these terms or speak over those who interpret them differently.

Identifying and focusing on the relevant parts of a problem or task to create generalizations.

Designing a sequence of steps to be followed to accomplish a task or achieve some desired end(s).

Attention is focus or concentration on specific stimuli. In most settings our brains must sort through multiple stimuli to be able to pay attention to those that are most salient to the task at hand.

ADHD is often characterized by differences that affect attention, and some forms of self-control. In children, hyperactivity may lead to discomfort in sitting still. ADHD has also been shown to be associated with strengths in creativity, abstraction, and idea generation.

Augmented Reality or AR is an enhancement to the real world using digital visual elements, sounds, and other sensory stimuli. AR superimposes digital information onto real-world objects to create a 3D experience that allows users to interact with both the physical and digital worlds simultaneously.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and communication. Autism has also been associated with strengths in pattern recognition, systematic thinking, and some forms of spatial reasoning.

Computational Thinking or CT is a logical approach to problem solving.  Primary elements of CT include Problem Decomposition, Pattern Recognition, Algorithm Design, and Abstraction, as well as Debugging. CT is a way of solving problems in many areas of STEM and everyday life.

Systematically isolating errors in solutions to problems and then correcting them to achieve desired outcomes.

Dyslexia affects word-level reading accuracy, reading fluency,  and spelling.  It is often recognized as an unexpected difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia has also been associated with strengths in creativity and some forms of spatial reasoning.

Executive function or EF is the set of processes the brain uses to coordinate sensory, emotional, and cognitive aspects of learning. EF processes include working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control, all of which are required when conducting tasks such as setting goals and designing and implementing a plan to achieve those goals. EF is also responsible for regulating attention, emotions, and impulse control, which enables persistence and motivation for learning.

Metacognition, which literally means above or beyond cognition, is sometimes described as “thinking about your own thinking”. Metacognition refers to one’s awareness and attention to one’s own learning processes. A metacognitive learner is aware of what they know and what they don’t know as well as what they need to do to advance their knowledge.

While neurodiversity represents the natural variation in human brain function, the term neurodivergent is used to describe individuals who experience cognition in ways that are not the norm for which much of education and many other systems are designed. Neurodivergent individuals often identify as autistic, dyslexic, or ADHD, but that is not always the case.

Neurodiversity describes the natural variation in human brain function and the differences in how people experience and interact with the world around them. A neurodiversity perspective believes there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and that neurodiversity includes assets as well as deficits in cognition.

The word neurodiversity typically includes a broad range of people, but it is often used in the context of neurological differences such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. The idea of neurodiversity was introduced by Judy Singer and Harvey Blume in 1988 to steer away from labeled disorders and instead consider each person as having a unique brain with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

We believe that neurodivergence is often associated with talents and perspectives that are critical for STEM problem solving. Through our research and development efforts, we aim to embrace neurodiversity and support all learners to be the best STEM problem solvers they can be.

Neurotypical is the opposite of neurodivergent. It represents the norm that education is designed for and is often contrasted with autism, ADHD, and other differences identified as neurodivergent.

Identifying parts of a problem/task or solution that repeat.

Breaking a problem or task down into smaller, more manageable parts.

Social and emotional learning or SEL is education to acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Approaches to problem-solving in STEM include critical reasoning, systematic thinking, creativity, innovation, persistence, attention to details, and big-picture thinking. These are all talents that are associated with many neurodivergent learners.
Virtual Reality or VR immerses a user in an artificial, computer-generated three-dimensional (3-D) visual and/or other sensory environment. VR uses devices, such as headsets and controllers, to support immersion and interactivity.

Working Memory is a system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Working memory is involved in selecting, initiating, and ending information-processing functions such as encoding, storing, and retrieving data.