Tag Archives: Brain Lab

Dr. Frank Lester was in attendance at NCTM and stopped by the booth!

“Problem Solving is Problematic”

Just returned from a fantastic trip to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Expo in San Diego! Here we unveiled our new online Brain Lab and met loads of excited, innovative educators whose students will test program during the month of May!

NCTM poster 800 300x180 Problem Solving is Problematic

At the show, ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie presented not only the new Brain Lab, but also his thoughts on problem solving and the issues and roadblocks this field has faced over the years. I’d like to share a summary of his message here, and invite you to join the conversation!

My wife Andrea and I started ThinkFun (then called Binary Arts) in 1985, and our vision has remained the same, to create the world’s best logic puzzles and thinking games. Since our foray into educational programming with our Game Club program, ThinkFun education initiatives aim to help players build thinking strategies and problem solving skills.

In today’s standards-driven world, however, promoting a problem-solving program without measurable results is a tough sell. I’ve since come to understand that the reason we struggled to prove our programs improved problem solving ability boils down to a simple truth…

“Problem Solving is Problematic”

Trying to claim a program teaches problem solving skills can become problematic for the simple reason that “problem solving” is not well defined in educational terms.

According to Dr. Frank Lester, a retired math education professor from Indiana University and leading authority in the field of problem solving research,

“Since the publication of the NCTM Agenda for Action in 1980, Problem Solving has been the most written about, but least understood, topic in the mathematics curriculum in the United States.”

 

TanyaWithFrankLester 600 300x223 Problem Solving is Problematic

Dr. Frank Lester was in attendance at NCTM and stopped by the booth to say hello!

As we set out to develop Brain Lab, we looked outside the education world for guidance… and hit upon research being done by cognitive psychologists on Executive Function, which feels a lot like problem solving minus content learning.

While pushing forward with this, we were contacted by the Bunge Cognitive Control and Development Lab at U.C. Berkeley studying the topic of Reasoning Ability. This team had just completed a pilot study using games including Rush Hour and Chocolate Fix with elementary schoolers in Oakland. After 8 weeks, students recorded an average 10 point increase in performance IQ!  Read more

Based on this research, the team is framing out a comprehensive set of studies on fluid reasoning (the ability to tackle a novel problem). They’ll be measuring changes in brain function and IQ… and want to use our Brain Lab as the basis for their studies!

We’ve spent a great deal of energy exploring, linking to, and picking apart concepts like problem solving, executive function, and fluid reasoning in order to get to the truth of what it is our programs genuinely do for children… and we would love to hear your thoughts!

Does “problem solving” still feel like the most genuine claim? Does training reasoning skills feel like a worthwhile endeavor? Please comment and share your perspective!

NCTM 2010 Kicks Off!

We arrived in (somewhat) sunny San Diego yesterday to prepare for the start of NCTM today!

Bill, Tanya (aka The Puzzle Hunter!), and I checked into our super swanky digs at the Hard Rock Hotel, then headed over to the Convention Center to get our booth set up!

DSCN0924 300x225 NCTM 2010 Kicks Off!

The booth came together nicely and in record time, I think we’re getting set up down to a science!  We are eagerly awaiting the early morning arrival of our web designer who is bringing with her the latest Brain Lab online program which will be unveiled in the booth TODAY!

DSCN0921 NCTM 2010 Kicks Off!

ThinkFun's Puzzle Hunter has a mischievious side!

Don’t forget… ThinkFun will be leading a fabulous hands-on presentation this morning, what better way to start your day and warm up your brain than with mind challenging game play?!  We hope you’ll join us:

ThinkFun Hands-On Workshop:  Learn how you can use ThinkFun’s games and programs in the classroom to help students build problem solving skills.  Come play, learn, and be inspired!

Thursday, 10:30-12:00 Convention Center Room 15A

If you’re attending the show, please stop by and say hello in Booth 1649!

San Diego bound!

NCTM button San Diego bound!Heading out to sunny San Diego for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Expo tomorrow!

If you’ll be at the show, please stop by Booth #1649 and say hello, I’d love to meet you! (and as added incentive… I may or may not be wearing a cape!)

super charlotte 144x300 San Diego bound!

A not-embarassing-in-the-least photo from a recent event!

And check out our 2 exciting presentations:

ThinkFun Hands-On Workshop:  Learn how you can use ThinkFun’s games and programs in the classroom to help students build problem solving skills.  Come play, learn, and be inspired!

Thursday, 10:30-12:00 Convention Center Room 15A

Brain Lab Presentation:  ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie will unveil our new online brain training program!

Friday, 11:30-12:30 at the Marriott (adjacent to Convention Center) Columbia Room

I’m looking forward to sharing details of this great conference in the days to come!