Author Archives: Wilma Hashimoto

Houston, We DON’T Have a Problem

The early math research associates at the AIMS Center for Math and Science have studied and written about the importance of spatial reasoning skills in the early learning classroom.  Our blogs have suggested ways teachers can promote spatial reasoning skills by having children learn directions on a grid mat, manipulate puzzle pieces, and create Lego structures. We know that we use spatial reasoning as adults in navigating directions while driving in an unfamiliar community or in backward mapping the amount of time to prepare and arrive at an event.

On my annual Refuel, Relax and Re-calibrate vacation, I had the joy of traveling through Texas to visit several places of “awe.”  At the Houston Space Station, I joined a tour to see the Saturn V rocket and relive the history of the Apollo Program…when man went to the moon!  Our guide was very informative and seemed to know more than just the average docent. After the tour, I joined a small informal group to learn more about the Apollo program and about the volunteer, Lee Norbraten. Lee was a mission planner for NASA in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. His job required very well developed spatial reasoning skills since he assisted in the calculation of the trajectory and landing of the Apollo rocket on the moon. The rocket is 363 feet tall or the equivalent of a 36 story skyscraper; it weighs over 6.2 million pounds or 400 elephants.  Lee was able to calculate this monstrosity to fly in the air for 238,000 miles from earth to the moon and know its exact location at any given time. The one thing that bothered him was that the rocket landed on the moon four seconds apart from his calculations. Lee had majored in math and physics in college, and upon graduation, he applied for the NASA program where he became an engineer.  He had never taken an engineering class, but his math skill sets made him invaluable to the program.

For many educators, summer is a season to rejuvenate.  However, when you return to the classroom in the fall and those young children enter your classroom, ask yourself how well you will prepare the next astronaut or mission planner for the Mars Space program for the goal orbiting year of 2030 and beyond?  Remember to “do the math” and help launch the next generation into the future.


Reaching a Destination Without GPS

The Global Positioning System, more commonly known as GPS, has greatly reduced driving time and increased the confidence of travelers. Using a large unfolded map to determine step-by-step directions to a destination has become an almost entirely extinct method of navigation. I wonder how many children under the age of 12 actually have utilized or… Continue Reading

In Their Voices (Part 6)

  “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss Friday, March 2 marked the 21st anniversary of the National Education Association (NEA) Read Across America Day. How and why did Read Across America begin? According to the NEA’s website, Read… Continue Reading

In Their Voices (Part 2)

This is the first in the series of blog posts that was written in conjunction with an early learning professional employed at one of our partnering Head Start preschool programs. Corin Villagomez has been a Head Start teacher for three years and she works with three and four-year-olds in a full-day program. She will be… Continue Reading

Reflecting and Growing

The end of the school year in June and the end of the calendar year in December both bring an obvious opportunity for educators to reflect on personal growth and positive impact. Educators tend to ask themselves, “Did I grow as an educator this year? Did I make a positive difference and maximize the children’s… Continue Reading

The First Picture Is Not The Only Picture

I have just returned from the 2017 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 6,000 early care and education (ECE) teachers for 0-8 year olds convened at the Georgia Congress Convention Center. My colleague Aileen Rizo and I were honored to represent the AIMS Center for Math… Continue Reading

Handy Little Fingers as Counters

The most convenient counting manipulatives are children’s fingers, where their small digits are fun counters. As we work with two preschool sites, the Early Learning Math team has the privilege of working with and observing young children develop their math skills. In promoting number sense through play, we have discovered that children will often demonstrate… Continue Reading

Spark Math Enthusiasm

How critical is teacher enthusiasm when it comes to children’s learning? Many of us know the monotone sound image of Charlie Brown’s teacher, “wot-wot, wot-wot, wot-wot.” Not very enthusiastic. Unsurprisingly, I believe that children are more apt to learn when the teacher is enthusiastic, especially about math. During a recent interview we asked teachers, “What… Continue Reading

Making a Difference in the New School Year

Welcome back to the 2017-18 school year! In early learning classrooms across the nation, thousands of 3-5 year-old children are excited to start school. There is wonderment about what this mysterious concept of “going to school” and “learning” means. Their new teachers had officially returned a week earlier, reviewed the enrollment roster, and filled a… Continue Reading