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Fun Summer Learning Activities: The DIY Sundial

Today is the first day of summer--also known by astronomers, scientists, and mathematicians as the Summer Solstice. The June Solstice takes place each year between June 20th and June 22nd and means that the Earth is farthest from the Sun on that day. This also makes students on summer vacation happy as there are more hours of sunlight to enjoy!
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How To Evaluate Educational Software Games

Math video game characters Do you know how most people evaluate educational games? Quite simply--they don't. For example, consider Dragon Box, an affordable, highly engaging, and extremely educational math video game on algebra. If Dragon Box were a car, it would probably be named Car of the Year. So what percentage of algebra teachers or parents do you think will be adding it to their toolbox this year? At a rough guess: probably less than one percent. ST Math, Dreambox, and Big Brainz are three other great programs that can make a significant impact on children's education. Yet how many math teachers or principals have even heard of these programs? And how many have taken steps to evaluate them to see if they're truly helpful?
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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.   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.
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How to Choose an Engaging, Effective Digital Math Program

Let’s face it—not many kids are interested in reciting their multiplication tables or practicing addition when they’ve got video games to play, TV to watch, and technology to explore. Unfortunately, too many parents and educators automatically assume that video games are mere time wasters, as mentioned in our earlier discussion about game-based learning. Of course, sorting out the effective math games from the mediocre ones can be a challenge. Not every game is equal when it comes to producing lasting learning. So, what to do?
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The Truth About Game-Based Learning Software

Math-fact gamification Ask a typical educator about game-based learning and video games in school, and expect at least some skeptical responses. Many educators and parents worry about gaming as an educational tool. Research on the educational worth of video games has been mixed, and some educators point out the fact that most data come from short-term studies. While research on educational software is still young, increasing evidence points to positive outcomes for today’s students—despite the prevalence of headlines linking video games to bad behavior or lukewarm learning outcomes. According to James Gee, an education professor at Arizona State University, blaming all video games for poor results is like blaming all food for the existence of obese people.1
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