Posts tagged ‘informal education’

March 13, 2013

New Tumblehome Learning/’Mixing in Math’ Partnership Broadcasted in Times Square!

New Tumblehome Learning/TERC partnership broadcasted over Times Square!

New Tumblehome Learning/TERC partnership broadcasted over Times Square!

This past week, the question circulating around TERC’s physical and digital hallways was this: “Is that photo I saw on Facebook real?”

It is indeed! Our news release on the new Tumblehome Learning/’Mixing in Math’ partnership, announced by PR Newswire, was transmitted to the Reuters Sign in Times Square multiple times Tuesday through Friday of last week. Perhaps if you spent afternoons last week in Times Square, you may have caught a glimpse of the Food Fights, Puzzles, and Hideouts book cover!

So what’s this all about? Tumblehome Learning (THL), a non-traditional transmedia publishing company, has partnered with TERC to publish a ‘Mixing in Math’ suite of games and activities. Developed at TERC and based on work funded in part by the National Science Foundation*, these additions to the THL product line of science books and games include the book Food Fights, Puzzles, and Hideouts and the sets of games Jump Ship and Blockade. Spanning the key topics in the elementary grades’ Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, the products help parents, homeschooling families, librarians, and afterschool providers engage children ages 4-12 in the math of everyday activities.

In fact, Food Fights, Puzzles and Hideouts presents hundreds of full-color interdisciplinary math games, projects, and activities that can be done at home, at after-school programs, at school, or ‘mixed in’ to car rides, snack times, and parties. With the card deck Jump Ship players get nine fast-paced games and 22 different levels of play, and  Blockade packages eight dry-erase board games for 2-4 players and offers 28 game options.

Want to learn more or order any of these products? Please visit the official press release, or Tumblehome Learning’s site to order any of these resources for math learning at prices of $10.95 and under.

* ‘Mixing in Math’ has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation, (ESI-0406675, ESI-0714537, ESI-9901289), and has been extensively piloted with children, parents, and informal educators, including after-school providers, librarians, and family numeracy providers. Independent evaluation shows that the materials improve attitudes about math and build math skills and engagement among adults and children.


April 26, 2012

Trumpets from the Front Line of Visitor Engagement

I learned a tidbit recently about what to takes to be an effective zoo and aquarium educator, and I think it comes down to this:

 Sometimes, you just have to BE the penguin.


Image of an Adelie Penguin courtesy of National Geographic

 Before you think I’m mixing Eastern and elementary (school) philosophy and need to double-check my sources, I want to tell you a story about one of the most illuminating glimpses into engagement I could have ever observed. It came in the form of nearly 30 zoo and aquarium educators recording observation data and taking turns preening, bowing, and “swimming” penguin-style across the jellyfish floor of the New England Aquarium.

I shook my plumage dry with the best of them, and eagerly recorded the emphatic behavior of my chosen ‘penguin’. It didn’t occur to me until after I had placed my colored Post-Its on the wall to count his waddles, preens, and singular high-pitched bray that the “Be An Animal Scientist” activity was a scientific data collection and analysis activity designed by aquarium educators to engage…K-2nd grade aquarium visitors. Still, there we all were—a flock of mature mock-penguins—completely lost in our enactments.


My recorded ‘penguin’ behaviors…

It all came together when I considered the nature of this exuberant end to the first day of the ZAARC (Zoo and Aquarium Action Research Collaborative) Institute. The Institute was an introductory meeting designed to initiate discussions, presentations and modeling of effective action research* practices to determine how and if zoo and aquarium educators could engage in reflective inquiry and examinations of ‘visitor engagement’ at their own institutions.

And then I realized the question really came down to the how, not the if.

Perhaps measuring engagement through action research can be even MORE preemptive than pilot testing designs with visitors. Perhaps it really is about just buckling down, being that proverbial penguin, and testing your activities yourself. If you end up flapping your flippers wildly and trumpeting with aplomb, you just know you have developed something truly special.

*Action research, as I learned that day, is a “form of inquiry that enables educators in every job or walk of life to investigate and evaluate their work” (McNiff and Whitehead).