I can’t wait for the International Toy Fair in New York City! It starts tomorrow and even a mere 2-3 feet of snow isn’t stopping me. There is such excitement in the Javitts Center as inventors, manufacturers and retailers all converge in one spot to share their hot new products for 2013. Emails and postcards are pouring in with information on existing and new companies asking for a visit. One of the new companies that fascinates me because I love science and continue to be fascinated at the language proficiency needed in science curriculum, is Goldie Blox, started by a Stanford engineer. Her books and associated projects are designed to teach girls basic engineering principles and encourage scientific thinking. According to her website, “In Goldie’s debut story, she decides to build a spinning machine to help her dog, Nacho, chase his tail. Soon, the whole gang wants in on the action. Help Goldie build a belt drive to spin everybody!” The kit includes the Storybook, 5 figurines, pegboard, 5 wheels, 10 axles, 5 blocks, 5 washers, a crank, and ribbon. This is certainly a timely concept, evidenced by a test reported in the New York Times this week showing that girls generally out perform boys in science–but not in the United States. The test was given in 65 developed countries to a representative sample of 15 year-old around the world.
I continue to see an emphasis on the language skills needed for science, math and social studies as I work with kids and consult with the schools. Students are being asked to explain the “why” and “how” and collaborate with a group of peers to come to conclusions and solve problems. My student in 7th grade has to keep a math journal to record how she arrived at her answer, including what worked and what didn’t and why. My first grade student has to tell “Why do you say that?” in response to his answers. I was watching “Sid the Science Kid” the other morning and the kids were instructed to “Grab your jars and journals,” as they went off to engage in “estimation investigation.” Learning involves more that recall, but also interpretation, inference and drawing conclusions, all important language skills.
So I am off tomorrow. Stay tuned, I will be reporting on all the exciting new products that can build that language learning edge in kids!