The race is on to get our nation’s kids up to speed on science. With U.S. students getting low global rankings in science and math proficiency, the need for innovative ways to interest youth in the sciences has never been more urgent.
We’re leading the way with SciGames, a new project developed by SciPlay, The Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning. SciGames uses technology to turn playground play into interactive games. For instance, by attaching speed sensors to a common playground slide, the slide transforms into a powerful educational tool. Instead of simply racing to the bottom of the slide, kids can experiment with different variables, such as what type of material to sit on as they glide down the slide. This turns the act of sliding down a slide into a fun game that explores science concepts such as friction, and kinetic and thermal energy.
SciGames will also include the development of a mobile app that teachers and students can use to aggregate the data collected during the games on the playground and to conduct analysis of that data back in the classroom. This bridge between formal and informal learning environments is a hallmark of our initiatives to improve and reform education in science, technology, engineering and math.
As a finalist for a $3.44 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the SciGames project is poised to reach approximately 8,000 New York students over the next five years. We are one of only 23 foundations, museums and schools that are finalists for an Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3, grant. The i3 program supports projects that will improve student achievement or student growth, decrease dropout rates, or close achievement gaps.
So get ready. If the kids get high marks in this race, we’ll all wind up winning.
For the past two weeks, Sesame Street viewers across the country have been treated to a morning science lesson with NYSCI and a loveable muppet named Murray Monster. Murray, with help from a Spanish-speaking lamb called Ovejita, cheered on as NYSCI Science Instructor Adiel Fernandez gave short lessons that encourage kids to learn science through design and think like engineers. Adiel is an educator with NYSCI’s Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning (SciPlay), which created the science lessons.
The Sesame Street episodes, filmed in NYSCI’s Rocket Park Mini Golf, Rocket Park, and Science Playground, ran locally on PBS stations in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Nebraska, Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Arizona and California.
See if you can spot NYSCI next week on Sesame Street on WNET Thirteen (October 20 at 10 am and October 21 at 7 am), WLIW21 (October 24 at 9 am), and NJTV (October 20 at 11 am).
NYSCI’s famous Charlie and Kiwi touring exhibit, curated and researched by our very own Science Interpretation Consultant, Martin Weiss, is now a best selling book presented and illustrated by award winning Peter H. Reynolds, and available on Amazon and at the NYSCI store. Charlie and Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure opened at NYSCI in May 2009, and then began touring the United States in August 2009. Since then, it has received rave reviews, tackling the subject of evolution in a manner that appeals to kids of all ages.
Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure
Is that a bird?
Where are its big, feathery wings?
Why does it have whiskers like a cat?
A kiwi can’t be a bird, can it?
The answer, Charlie learns is simply evolutionary.
Presented by Peter Reynolds and FableVision and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, this is an easy to understand scientific adventure. Charlie and Kiwi (with help from great, great, great, great, great Grandpa Charles Darwin) take you on a journey through time and through a huge scientific principle. The story of evolution—and that strange little Kiwi bird—reminds us that sometimes what seems like a raw deal (a bird that can’t fly) turns out to be just perfect!
The New York Hall of Science is New York’s hands-on science and technology center. They promote science and technology as important tools that help us understand ourselves and the world we live in.
Visit the exhibit behind the book, Charlie & Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure in person or online http://www.nysci.org/explore/ontour/charlieandkiwi.
FableVision is an award-winning children’s media developer and book packager founded by Peter and Paul Reynolds.
Peter H. Reynolds is the bestselling author and illustrator of The Dot and Ish and illustrator for the New York Times #1 bestseller Someday by Alison McGhee. He is also the illustrator of Little Boy, Charlie and Kiwi and the Judy Moody series. He lives in Dedham, Mass. where he is co-owner of the Blue Bunny bookstore. Visit Peter online at peterhreynolds.com.