What Juliet, MacGyver, and Captain Sideways Can Teach Us About Problem-Solving

What Juliet, MacGyver, and Captain Sideways Can Teach Us About Problem-Solving

“Functional fixedness” punks problem-solving. Here’s how to open your mind to the possibilities of everyday objects. Read More

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The Mothership: A Visit to the New SparkFun Building

The Mothership: A Visit to the New SparkFun Building

The shipping department was full of dudes with asymmetric facial hair on skateboards. An engineer had picked up about a thousand Keva planks and on an upstairs wrap-around counter space, there was a crowdsourced build going on — in which you could tell the crowd had higher than the average bear’s level of design thinking skills. Strung on a wall was a DIY art piece made of light bulbs and wire that was set to ripple in response to sounds. A trigger-operated race car track wound underneath a 7-foot tall version of one of those wooden dinosaur skeleton kits. Read More

Study: If You Want Math and Reading Success, Teach Planning Skills

Study: If You Want Math and Reading Success, Teach Planning Skills

Remember the Tower of Hanoi — that game with discs and pegs? Well it requires planning, specifically the ability to see that you have to move away from your goal so that you can eventually move toward it. A study in the journal Child Development shows that kids’ Tower of Hanoi ability is a better predictor of math and reading success than socioeconomic status or anything else. And that training this important skill of planning may help disadvantaged kids catch up. Read More

Study: Quality and Not Quantity of Parents’ Words Teaches Vocabulary

Study: Quality and Not Quantity of Parents’ Words Teaches Vocabulary

The number of words a child knows when he or she enters kindergarten is an astoundingly good predictor of how well they’ll do in school and even how they will much later do in the workplace. A study from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that it’s quality and not quantity of speech that teaches vocabulary. If your speech matches your actions and the surrounding context, kids learn your words — if not, it’s just talk. Read More