Can Technology Stimulate Mental Development in Young Children?

A guest post by Dr. Eugene Emmer, medical entrepreneur and author

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.


lab rat, enriched environment, brain research, learning, hippocampus, Imagine As a physiologist and parent, I have long been interested in the impact of early childhood education on the child’s developing brain.

Over the years, an increasing number of scientists have devoted lab research to brain development and function. Their findings are not only fascinating, they also show how important proper stimulation is for the developing brain.

For example, years ago I read an intriguing study that demonstrated a marked increase in hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment.

Basically, the study showed that young rats raised in a stimulating environment had better-developed brains than rats raised in unstimulating environments.

During this study, scientists raised two groups of rats. One group lived in an enriched environment that included toys, tunnels, wheels, and so on; the other group was raised in an empty cage with only food.

Scientists showed that the rats raised in the enriched environment developed more hippocampal neurons than the rats raised in an empty cage. The stimulating environment had developed each rat’s young brain much the same way that lifting weights develops muscle. Read more »


Study: students see 36-65% greater gains with Imagine Learning

SEG Study Executive Summary

SEG Measurement, an independent research firm, announced the completion of the first phase of a study of nearly 1,000 English language learners in grades two–five in a large California school district. Study results demonstrate that students in programs using Imagine Learning’s curriculum show greater improvement in reading than students not exposed to Imagine Learning software.

The study compared growth in reading skills of students who used Imagine Learning to comparable students who did not use Imagine Learning. Students used the Imagine Learning software for approximately six months between December 2012 and June 2013. Students in second grade using Imagine Learning showed 36% greater gains in reading than students who did not use the program. Imagine Learning students in grades three–five showed 65% greater gains in reading than non-users.

“Students using Imagine Learning showed statistically significant gains in reading skills and outperformed students who did not use Imagine Learning,” said Scott Elliot, president of SEG Measurement. “These findings are particularly important, given that students only used Imagine learning for half of the school year. More extended use of Imagine Learning may yield even greater gains for the students.”

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Somali first-language support added

Imagine Learning recently introduced Somali first-language support. The new addition makes it easier for even more students to gain language and literacy fluency.

As students use Imagine Learning and become more proficient in English, the language support gradually fades, preparing students for English-only environments.

Imagine Learning now offers first-language support in 15 languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Marshallese, Tagalog, Cantonese, Hmong, and Somali.

Somali language support is just one of the many features included in the latest update, Imagine Learning version 13. Packed with new curriculum, iPad delivery, and the new Action Areas tool, version 13 provides language and literacy instruction better than ever.

Watch the v13 video.


Inspiration in education

Have you ever met someone who inspired you to try something new? I’m grateful to say that I have! In one case, I was inspired by my older brother to pick up the guitar, an instrument I’ve greatly enjoyed playing. On another occasion, a friend’s example inspired me to start riding my bicycle to work, a small adjustment that has led me to make many other healthy changes as well.

Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on day-to-day tasks that I don’t recognize the unexplored avenues all around me, and I let opportunities slip by. I think of a pair of lines from “Maud Miller,” a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:

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