Author Archives: Chris Brownell

AIMS Scholars Finishing the Race

When I started working for AIMS in 2014, we started the AIMS Scholars program. Now I know some of you reading this have received scholarship funds from the AIMS Foundation in the past (myself included), and therefore might wonder what I mean by “started.” During the 2014-2015 academic year, a public campaign was rolled out to scholarship 50% of the costs to attend and earn a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics or STEM Education at Fresno Pacific University (FPU). This campaign, along with some other important actions on the part of other entities, brought in approximately 40 new students to these programs in one year.

These 40 students have spent the past three years working late nights, attending classes, studying, reading research, solving problems, learning to conduct studies of their own, and attending monthly or bi-monthly colloquia talks. This hard work is paying off, as most will be graduating and going through ceremonies on May 4 & 5 after having completed their Master’s Thesis papers.

These papers have ranged across a wide array of topics including: “The Effects of Using Polya’s Four Step Problem Solving Upon Student Attitudes,” “Implementing Google Chromebook Technology,” “The Effects of Inquiry-Based Science Upon Reading,” etc. These students implemented the use of manipulatives in mathematics instruction and 3D printing to foster a robust concept of scale in middle schoolers, as well as build Rube Goldberg machines and promote the idea of productive struggle in their classrooms. Some took what they learned and tried to influence others by conducting professional development sessions around implementing specific mathematical practices, or the interface of the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.

They have taken on the challenge to learn, and through that learning, lead. These two programs, Math and STEM Education, exist within the Educational Leadership Division at FPU, something I will admit I didn’t understand at first. These recipients of AIMS support have demonstrated that the programs are well-placed, in fact. These students, many of them already hired as district or county level leaders, are engaging in their profession, no longer content to work within the four walls of their classroom. They lead professional learning community conversations and are becoming the resources for other teachers and paraprofessionals.

Some of these students have had babies, deaths in the family, weddings, job changes, illnesses, accidents, joys and sorrows in abundance along the path. More than one epithet has been hurled my way, the causes of which I recognize as both stress induced and probably deserved. Nonetheless, these students who entered have transitioned. We now consider them scholars, and masters of the craft. A hard-fought appellation, and I for one congratulate them. Well done, cohort one!

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Systems Thinking

The members of the Research Division here at AIMS have been reading Humberto Maturana and Fracisco Varela’s book, The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding. These biologists describe how cognition and understanding emerge and are constructed out of single cellular organisms, and as they are coupled together in multi-cellular entities like humans.… Continue Reading

Towards Risk-Tolerant Learning

Recently, several of us at the AIMS Center have become involved in an online community that is growing out of the just-released book by Mitch Resnick Ph.D. Resnick is the Director of MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten, a group of researchers and learners studying how people learn. Some of the ideas we have been generating… Continue Reading

The Global Math Project and More

October through December is one of the busiest of segments of my year. This year, I began the month of October at a Global Math Project Symposium which took place in New York City. I will end this period of travel at the California STEAM Symposium in San Francisco on December 11. In between those,… Continue Reading

It’s Here! (Or will be soon)

During the week of October 10th, the efforts of a grassroots organization will come to fruition. Two years of planning, networking, prototyping, seeking support, world traveling, app building, blogging, tweeting, and oh so many other 21st century participles, will culminate in the first-ever Global Math Project. AIMS is both proud and happy to support this… Continue Reading

Reflecting upon Summer 2017

It seems funny to be reflecting back on this season now, but as my profession is inexorably linked to a scholastic calendar, it is accurate. Schools all over the valley are starting up, teachers are prepping their classrooms if they haven’t already begun classes, and my colleagues at AIMS and FPU are filtering back into… Continue Reading

Green Wall Challenge #1

This first problem comes in two parts, and a bit of mind reading. The parts are different in obvious ways. Solve them both, then read my mind, to do this you may have to ponder for a while the nature of the two parts of the challenge already completed. The winning solution will describe accurately… Continue Reading

AIMS Scholars Engineer Festively!

The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education, the working arm of the AIMS Education Foundation, has committed to helping teachers in the greater Central Valley of California pursue their Master’s degrees at Fresno Pacific University. To this end, funds have been set aside to scholarship teachers interested in earning one of the two MA… Continue Reading