Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 1

(fade out title screen — camera zooms out as nerdy-looking stereotypical math research associate (RA) walks toward camera — reminiscent of a political spot)

RA: “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty!” You may have heard this phrase used from time to time. I was raised with this philosophy, and have found it to be helpful more often than not. Okay, now I’m a math research associate. You might think: “Really, how dirty can your hands get? Did you spill your coffee? Forget to use hand sanitizer or forget to wash with the lotion-infused soap? Did you get pi on your face?” (drum roll for effect…) Nope. Here at the AIMS Center for Math and Science, we go to great lengths to get into the minds of children…even if we have to get our hands dirty. (fade to video of construction site with concrete truck beeping as it backs up) (nerdy-looking stereotypical math researcher narrates)

RA: A few weeks ago I was part of a team that poured concrete for a new set of steps and a wheelchair ramp at our church. I know, I know…so out of character for math research associates. Anyway, we enjoyed working together and many of us brought our children. There were lots of boards for kids to walk on, water, sand, rocks, splinters, rusty nails (tetanus shots at a premium), and so forth. One little guy, let’s call him Bob, was…well, actually, he still is…a 5-year-old that had just started kindergarten. He was there in the mud playing with rocks, so what else does an AIMS math researcher do? I got down and got my hands dirty. (dramatic boxing movie music) (fade to video of nerdy-looking math researcher kneeling in the mud with a child) (nerdy-looking stereotypical math researcher continues to narrate…)

RA: I knew from previous experience that Bob could count like a champ — he had perfect 1-to-1 correspondence and a number word sequence well over 100, he could subitize patterns to 5, and could conserve number. A number conservation example: if he counted 8 items and they were re-arranged, he knew there were still 8. You may think, “Well, that’s obvious, Mr. Obvious,” but that’s not an easy concept for the little ones. So anyway, I decided to put him into some additive situations to see where his Zone of Potential Construction (ZPC) was. Oh, sorry! I slipped into my math researcher voice. ZPC just means that I wanted to find a mathematical situation that was difficult enough for him to learn something, but not so difficult that he would give up. (freeze frame)

Narrator: “Will 5-year-old Bob be able to withstand to Mr. Unnamed Math Researcher’s brutal questioning? Will Mr. Unnamed Math Researcher be a softie so that Bob thinks everything is too easy and gets bored? Don’t miss the next episode of Meet the Children Where They Are!” (dramatic orchestra music and fade to credit roll and outtakes…)

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