Friday, November 30, 2012

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Earlier this month, DuPage Children's Museum in conjunction with Choose DuPage presented "Creating a Culture of Innovation" at North Central College in downtown Naperville. This inspiring event featured keynote speaker Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, and an accomplished panel of local leaders in the field of innovation. 

There was a buzz in the air both prior to the presentation and at the following reception, as local business and community leaders met and talked about all of the ideas prompted by this unique event. DuPage Children's Museum is proud to be a community partner serving not only the youngest members of our population, but their adult counterparts as well!

Along with Mr. Kuczmarski, our panelists included:
• Dan Brown, Founder & President, Loggerhead Tools, Past Chicago Innovation Awards winner
• Bob Dutzi, Vice President & General Manager, Illinois Tool Works, Past Chicago Innovation Awards winner
• Richard S. Faron, President, Museum Explorer, Inc.
• Salvatore (Sam) Immordino Jr., Program Manager, Performance Surfaces & Materials Analysis Laboratories, USG Corporate Innovation Center, Past Chicago Innovation Awards winner
• Brian Krause, Vice President of Global Marketing &Communications, Molex, Past Chicago Innovation Awards winner
• Maria Wynne, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana, Past Chicago Innovation Awards winner

Written by  T.J. Hicks, Director of Integrated Brand Marketing, DuPage Children's Museum

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Research Shows about Counting and Number Sense

It may seem obvious that counting plays a significant role in future mathematics success.  Indeed, research confirms what parents and teachers have believed for years: it is important for children to have plenty of counting practice as part of their school readiness experiences. Jordan and colleagues (2009) examine the relationship between early number competence and mathematics achievement from kindergarten through third grade.  Examples for number competence include the ability to count, to make number comparisons and to complete calculations.  The study finds that high levels of early number competence have a positive impact on children’s mathematic achievement in later years. 

Similarly, in a three-year longitudinal study (age 5 through a mean of 8 years and 8 months), Krajewski and Schneider (2009) examine the relationship between the roles of counting and understanding quantity and mathematics achievement at the elementary level.  The authors divided understanding of numbers into two levels. Level 1 consists of basic numerical skills, or understanding number and word sequences. Level 2 consists of linking number words with quantities, including the ability to compare quantities and understand cardinality—the idea that a quantity can be represented by a number. Their findings indicate that success with level 1 topics predicts success with level 2 topics, which in turn predicts mathematics achievement in fourth grade.

Because early math competencies and understanding predict achievement in the elementary grades, bolstering preschoolers’ counting and other mathematical understandings is essential. 

Borrowed from NAEYC, Exploring Math, Spotlight on Young Children (2012).

Jordan, N.C., D. Kaplan, C. Ramineni & M.N. Locuniak. 2009. “Early Math Matters: Kindergarten Number Competence and Later Math Outcomes.” Developmental Psychology 45 (3): 850-67.

Krajewski, k. & W. Scheider. 2009. “Exploring the Impact of Phonological Awareness, Visual-Spatial Working Memory, and Preschool Quantity—Number Competencies in Mathematics Achievement in Elementary School: Findings from a 3-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Experimental Psychology 103 (4): 516-31.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Scientific Method—Right here at DCM!

The scientific method is a process that scientists use to answer questions of all types. In its most basic sense, the scientific method involves observation, hypothesis/prediction, experimentation and conclusion. Scientists often adapt the use of the scientific method based upon what is being studied or how the scientist might interpret the process itself.

At DuPage Children's Museum (DCM), a myriad of scientists travel through our exhibit neighborhoods each day.  With every splash of water, turn of a handle and stroke of a brush, children are observing, predicting, experimenting, coming to conclusions and repeating the process!

Most recently, DCM invited several young chemists to our Creativity Class series on the subject. Students were introduced to chemistry as the study of matter and the changes that take place with matter. Children explored chemical reactions under the guise of the class titles—Chemistry or Not? Mix it Up!  and Pop, Fizz, Wow! 

Creativity classes run throughout the year.  Registration is taking place for our winter break camps as well.  Sign up today!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Children are Using the Scientific Method Just Like the Pros!

Though their actions look suspiciously like play, a new study performed by Alison Gopnik, author of The Scientist in the Crib and professor at the University of California at Berkley, shows that children approach problems in need of solutions in much the same manner as scientists.

By utilizing advanced research methods and mathematical models that are able to provide insight into children’s learning mechanisms, Gopnik and her colleagues learned that young children are able to naturally learn from statistics, experiments and by observing the actions of others. The results, says Gopnik’s team, are strikingly similar to how researchers use the scientific method to get to the bottom of complex questions.

For more information:

Gopnik’s homepage

LeGare,  A child's potential as a future scientist

Some information contained in this blog is borrowed from The National Science Foundation News: Babies are Born Scientists and Alan McStravick in redOrbit science.


Friday, November 2, 2012

S.T.E.A.M. Ahead: Adding Art to S.T.E.M.

In recent years there has been a great amount of focus placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.).  In an effort to keep pace with a global economy, educators from preschools through higher education have increased learning opportunities that place emphasis on S.T.E.M.

A concept making its way to the forefront of educational circles is S.T.E.A.M., or adding the arts to the emphasis that is currently placed on science and mathematical literacy. Research shows that the arts support crucial developmental skills in creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication (National Endowment for the Arts Longitudinal Study results, 2012).  The arts can also be a powerful way to approach math and science learning for children who don’t show great interest in S.T.E.M. concepts otherwise. 
Science, Math & Art intersect in DCM's studio programs

In the early years children can be encouraged to use dance to learn about spatial relationships and geometry. Dance is movement and a constant creation of shape not only in circles and curves, but also in straight and pointed lines in relation to bodies as they move through a space.

Science concepts, such as light and shadow, can be added to math learning and dance.  Children can be encouraged to watch how movements change the shapes and lines of their bodies as the sun shines behind them. 

To the tune of Five Fat Sausages and other           number-oriented songs; music, movement and counting have gone hand-in-hand for many years. In addition, chanting patterns like tap, clap, snap or even sorting objects as songs are sung can reinforce mathematical concepts for young children.

S.T.E.A.M. education indicates that children can be offered concepts in math and science while developing additional complimentary skills enhanced through the arts. As we begin to see these connections, we can open our eyes to S.T.E.A.M.—its presence and value in how we engage learners. 

This blog post is also published in the October 2012 edition of Positively Napervillea printed guide of community events, volunteer opportunities and local lore. The publication is distributed to 35,000 homeowners by the first of every month.