SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Poster Session 4: Parkopolis: Adult and Child Talk in a Human-size STEM Board Game
Section: Parenting & Parent-Child Relationships
Authors: Molly Schlesinger, Andres Bustamante, Kathy Hirsdh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
Abstract: Young children from underserved communities typically lag behind their peers academically (Duncan et al., 2017). This gap is particularly critical with early mathematics (e.g., spatial skills, shapes, numbers), as early spatial skills are predictive of many later skills (Classens & Engel, 2013; Verdine et al., 2017). Equitable education and in-school interventions have shown the potential of school for closing the gap (Yoshikawa et al., 2016); however, children only spend 20% of their waking hours in school (Meltzoff et al., 2009). Therefore, school-based interventions alone cannot close the gap, and out-of-school research suggests mathematics talk out-of-school positively contributes to mathematics foundations (Hart et al., 2016; Ridge et al., 2015). How can we enhance out-of-school time to support early mathematics through the power of adult-child playful interactions?
Parkopolis is an evidence-based life-size playful learning board game designed to facilitate STEM learning through adult-child STEM conversations. Derived from cutting-edge research in the science of learning, Parkopolis was created for public spaces to promote learning dialog to foster early STEM. In Parkopolis, children roll dice redesigned to represent whole numbers and fractions, engage in different STEM activities like measuring on a human-sized ruler, playing hopscotch for executive functions, and solving reasoning and logic problems – developed from research targeting STEM-learning skills such as numeracy (Clements, 2004), measurement (Szilágyi et al., 2013), and fractions (Jordan et al., 2016).
As early number and spatial talk positively relates to later mathematics (Jordan et al., 2017; Gunderson et al., 2012), we hypothesized visiting Parkopolis would increase adult-child conversation generally, adult fraction talk, and child whole-number talk, and may mediate children’s fraction talk. Three hundred families diverse in race, socioeconomic status, and education were observed either playing Parkopolis (60%) or visiting a control exhibit (40%) as part of a children’s museum experience. The live coder manual was adapted from prior research and all coders achieved 80% reliability minimally (Ridge et al., 2015). The control exhibit, a popular STEM exhibit, concentrates on outer space and the primary activity is building and launching rockets.
Independent Samples t-tests indicated significantly more whole-number talk, fraction talk, and adult-child interaction in Parkopolis than the control exhibit. We then examined if adult-child interaction, adult fraction talk, child whole-number talk, and visiting the “fraction dice” and “fraction ruler” in Parkopolis mediated the effect of playing Parkopolis on children’s fraction talk. Parent fraction language and child whole-number language significantly mediated the relations between visiting Parkopolis and child fraction language. That is, Parkopolis no longer predicted child fraction language after controlling for adult fraction language and child whole-number language, consistent will full mediation. Overall, there is evidence that Parkopolis is promoting child fraction language as a function of relevant adult-guided experiences (parent fraction language), but not irrelevant or unguided interactions (adult-child interaction, fraction dice and ruler). This poster will focus on the implications and critical nuances to fostering children’s early STEM through playful learning and social interaction.