This project is really exciting as it combines two of our favourite themes: creative ways to learn and spaces to imagine. It’s not about maximising or constantly learning, it’s about context and environment. By taking the conversations outside the classroom to daily places like bus stops, it makes these topics accessible and relevant. It’s interesting to think about what other issues could be applied to spaces like these.
Be it for school or just running errands, thousands of children and their parents wait for the bus every day. A pilot program in Pennsylvania is trying to squeeze a little more science, technology, engineering, and math learning into those waits.
In the Urban Thinkscape project in Philadelphia, researchers and local architects built spatial and science-related art at neighborhood bus stops in Philadelphia, including spatial puzzle walls, patterns of footsteps for jumping, or pictures containing hidden objects and shapes. Prior studies have suggested children who talk more about math outside of school do the same in class, and that play and simple prompts can increase such conversation.
Over months, researchers observed questions and conversations among 280 families with at least one child over age 2 (the average age was 4) both at the bus stops and nearby playgrounds before and after the art was installed. They coded conversations for science, spatial, and math conversations, as well as those on other topics.