Rush Hour in Schools
How We Use Rush Hour in Schools to Teach Thinking Skills
By ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie
For years we have brought Rush Hour into school classrooms to help children exercise their minds. In 2009 we developed a program specifically designed to teach the ThinkFun Super Solver System, a classroom enrichment program where students follow a disciplined process to learn critical thinking and motivational skills.
Our ThinkFun Game Club program clearly resonated, thousands of teachers signed up and used the program in their classrooms. The message that came back to us loud and clear is that teachers are searching for a way to teach thinking skills, as well as teaching content. From the larger perspective, this is clearly where our entire education system needs to be going, to get our children ready for for the 21st century.
One important thing we learned is that it is hard to teach thinking process! It is not part of our established procedures, and indeed children do not naturally have a good set of language skills with which to describe their thinking process. We were actually a little startled to discover how fundamental this issue really is.
In early 2010 we launched a study to explore this topic. Working with our study group of teachers and students, we used modified versions of Rush Hour challenges to learn about what ability children naturally have to describe a problem and the thinking process they go through to solve it. Working in conjunction with their teachers and parent coaches, we took students through a series of online Rush Hour challenges and exercises with the objective of improving on their ability to become self aware of their thinking process, and helping them to be more effective with their descriptions of how they set up and worked through the challenges. After several weeks of training, the student performance spoke for itself - players were sticking with challenges longer, becoming more effective at working to solutions, and making progress in their ability to express themselves. We are eager to continue work on a next generation study using online game play to train reasoning and encourage creative problem solving!
Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted!