Math and Science Meet Recess
It’s no secret that tests and textbooks might not be the best way to teach a class of energetic students. Educators are on the hunt for a better way, including the team at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). Funded by a grant from the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Local Projects partnered with NYSCI to get science and math out of the classroom and empower students to take learning into their own hands.
Teaching Kids How to Notice
The Local Projects team developed five “noticing tools” for the iPad to help students recognize invisible scientific and mathematical forces at work while they’re at play. They wanted students to learn through activities they actually enjoyed, such as Size Wise, which introduces kids to ratios and proportions by allowing them to create playful forced-perspective photos, and Playground Physics, where kids capture videos of their activity that reveal how friction, gravity, acceleration, mass and velocity are working behind the scenes.
Prototyping Toward Play
Local Projects’ research showed that the more deeply involved students were in every step of the concept they were learning, the more they retained. They began by testing the simplest of playground activities, quickly prototyping a sensor-laden mat that could track velocity, force and motion as kids slid down a slide.
They quickly realized that students needed a bigger, more interactive role in the tracking process, so they went back to the drawing board. In the end, they used the powerful suite of sensors built into Apple iPad to make each math or science concept come alive.
A Collaborative Platform for Future Improvements
To make the apps even more effective tools for teachers, Local Projects designed an online platform that lets teachers collect data on how their students are using the apps. The Local Projects engineering team continues to collect data from (and collaborate with) educators to improve these five powerful tools:
Playground Physics allows you to uncover and analyze how important physics principles are at work while you are at play.
Size Wise allows you to explore ratios and proportions while making funny pictures that make things look wildly bigger and smaller than they really are.
Volumize turns 2D photos into a canvas for 3D modelling and learning about the relationship between surface area and volume.
Choreo Graph allows you to explore graphs and coordinate geometry to choreograph some funny dance moves for an animated character you create.
Fraction Mash lets you explore fractions while creating crazy photo mash-ups.
"This project illustrates how our environment and technology can connect to not only get kids up and moving, but also challenge them to investigate all aspects of their movements and interactions in order to understand complex principles of scientific concepts and theories."
"This educational application encourages students to move through spaces and helps make connections to core STEM curriculum."
Jake Barton (principal); A'yen Tran (engagement director);Theresa Loong (interactive project manager); Ethan Holda (director of technology); Nathan Adkisson (senior strategist); Eric Mika (senior creative technologist); Paul Hoppe (art director); Erika Tarte (director of graphic design); Angela Chen (director of interaction design); Karen Vanderbilt (designer); John Ryan (senior interaction designer/technologist); Jon Cohrs, Kristin Lovejoy (project coordinators)