Early Learning Advantage: A good beginning never ends.
Want more diversity in STEM? Want American math & science “athletes” to be stay competitive? We need to get every American child playing the game at a young age.
◊ 5th. Give Students Meaningful Challenges: “Real-world” power over their environment; Skills they can use without their Teacher!; “Real World” Work: kids want to lift Star Fighters, Save the city from monsters, not solve abstract “word problems.”
The “real world” challenges remind me of the Ted Radio talk I heard this weekend by the guy who taught high school physics and realized he was boring people to sleep by giving them tasks like “Calculate how many joules it takes to lift a 5 kg objects 3 meters…” but when he switched to “Calculate how much energy it would take Luke skywalker to lift his starfighter out of the swamp” their enthusiasm exploded and it was all he could do to keep up with them:
“Let’s see,” the students said, “we can figure out the standard gravity on the planet from the Star Wars Wikipedia!”
“And let’s figure out mass of starfighter from same source!” Then:
“What formulas do we need to calculate the amount of energy needed, let’s check physics text!”
To fix American students’ decades long slide in Math & Science knowledge, we need to start American children playing the game of Math & Science at a young age! When a country wants to compete in the Olympics does it go out and recruit high school freshman to start developing soccer stars or volleyball stars? Of course not! Five or six years old is the right age to introduce young athletes to your game. We have been introducing Kindergarten to 8th Grade students to programming, problem-solving, and applied mathematics for 17 years now with great results.