The AIMS Center – Wow!

AIMS Center SignWOW!  I have been absolutely blessed to have been brought in to direct the transition of the AIMS Education Foundation into the newly envisioned AIMS Center for Math and Science Education!  What does that mean?  Well…

Dr. Arthur Wiebe left a legacy through the work of the AIMS Education Foundation.  Since 1981, AIMS has worked at finding ways to get students doing things, to get them thinking, to encourage and facilitate student learning of math and science, and to do this through engaging, hands-on activities.

Dr. Wiebe brought teachers together to begin develop, write and disseminate to teachers engaging, hands-on math and science activities for grades K-9.  After these 30+ years, AIMS now has over 3000 activities in our collection.  Although AIMS has stopped writing new ones, all of our current activities/tasks are now available through digital download on the AIMS Center website (aimsedu.org).

As a way to support and encourage teachers to use these activities, AIMS began to offer workshops for teachers. We now have facilitators spread across the nation and are contracting with schools and districts to provide workshops and sustained professional learning opportunities.  Our Professional Learning Division is constantly expanding to meet a growing need for teacher support.

There is compelling evidence that suggests that achievement gaps start early and persist through a child’s academic career, ultimately impacting life trajectory and outcomes. Recent research shows that early math skills are the greatest predictor of later academic success and high school graduation.  At the same time, extensive research on how young children learn early math and numeracy skills has not been effectively incorporated into how we teach the most foundational math concepts.

AIMS Center Leadership
AIMS Center Board (From Left to Right): Linda Hoff, Joe Hernandez, Lori Hamada (Executive Director), Richard Thiessen, Dave Youngs, Ron Koop. (not pictured Jon Hillen, Wil Reimer)

So, in 2014, then CEO Dr. Richard Thiessen shared his new vision with the AIMS board of directors and the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education was launched to tackle the challenge of knowledge translation.  I was brought in to move us in this new direction.  I work with a substantial team of Researchers and Research Associates who are working to find and understand the research about how children learn mathematics at these critical young stages and to get those findings to teachers here in the central San Joaquin Valley.  Through this work we can expect a new ripple effect, one of positive implications that derive from a generation of children that have been supported to develop a core foundation for future learning and success. Our children are the ultimate beneficiaries, and our early education teachers are the catalyst.

I have worked in this field of education now for over 30 years.  I believe in children and I believe that they are our future.  This is the most exciting opportunity that I have ever been a part of in my career.  There is research sitting on shelves with the solutions. The AIMS Center is committed to being the conduit to translate these findings to teachers, so they can apply what we know to change math instruction and to change lives forever.  What a daunting challenge, but what an awesome opportunity!  I repeat…  WOW!

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