Por qué da tanto placer completar un rompecabezas (y por qué no son una pérdida de tiempo, como algunos creen)

Written by Laura Pitt

(This is an excerpt of the article from BBC Mundo. To view the full article click on the link below)

Da un placer tan pero tan particular, que no puedo entender cómo el idioma español no tiene una palabra para referirse a ello.

Hablo del preciso instante en que después de mirar el desorden de fichas por un laaaaaaaargo rato, encontramos el lugar exacto donde encaja la pieza que tenemos en la mano.

No todo el mundo es fan de los puzles o rompecabezas, pero en medio de la cuarentena esta antigua forma de entretenimiento ha vuelto a ponerse de moda.

Según reportó recientemente Ravensburger Games, líder global en la fabricación de rompecabezas, sus ventas aumentaron 370% en comparación con el año pasado.

Es cierto que el renovado interés por este pasatiempo se debe, en parte, a que en estos días nos vemos obligados a pasar mucho más tiempo de lo habitual en la casa.

Pero también, nota Marcelo Danesi, profesor de semiótica y antropología de la Universidad de Toronto, la necesidad de resolver problemas es una tendencia innata y el efecto de la pandemia es que sencillamente lo hizo hizo resurgir.

“Los puzles —tanto los acertijos verbales como los rompecabezas físicos— se remontan a los orígenes de la civilización. Si le preguntas a un niño que nunca resolvió un acertijo algo así como ‘¿Por qué la gallina cruzó la calle?’, no va a dejar de molestarte hasta que le des una respuesta”.

Full article



Puzzles Are Bringing Families Together During the Pandemic – They Are Also a Boon to Young Children’s Developing Brains

Written by Zoë Kirsch

(This is an excerpt of the article from The 74 Million. To view the full article click on the link below)

Two-year-old Maddyn Robinson picked up her backpack, slung it over her shoulders and marched over to the steps leading to her family’s garage. “I’m going to school!” she said.

By “school,” the toddler meant the licensed day care center that she’s been attending since the age of 3 months — a place where she normally whiles away the hours learning about shapes, finger painting and cooking make-believe meals in a make-believe kitchen.

Maddyn’s mother Liz smiled and steered her daughter back into the living room, toward her little play table, reminding her about the virus and explaining that they wouldn’t be going back to Memories Begin Here anytime soon. It had been a week since the pair had taken the 20-minute journey from their home in Clarksburg, Maryland, to the Rockville-based center.

Like many day care centers in Maryland, Memories Begin Here has closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and when it will reopen is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, Liz Robinson is among the countless parents nationwide who have to find ways to keep their toddlers busy while working remotely. Robinson is a guidance counselor at Thomas S. Wootton High School, tasked during the lockdown with ensuring that kids are registered for next year’s classes, helping juniors navigate the college admissions process and advising seniors on their college decisions.

Liz directed Maddyn’s attention to one of the toddler’s favorite toys: a six-piece wooden jigsaw puzzle bearing a cheerful lion. The toddler picked it up, screamed with delight and dumped its contents on the floor. Maddyn might not have been able to go to day care today, but until she could, at least she and Liz had jigsaw puzzles.

In these painful, disruptive times, many families are turning to the soothing repetition of jigsaw puzzles to bond and to calm the nerves. Puzzle sales worldwide, including in the U.S., have exploded. Major manufacturer Ravensburger, for instance, reported a 370 percent increase year over year in the past few weeks. Beyond their pandemic-driven popularity — and fortunately for parents with young children — the toy can provide a range of educational benefits.

Full article



Study Shows Gender Stereotypes About Math Abilities are Unfounded

Written by Heather Cruickshank, featuring doctoral candidate Julianne Herts

(This is an excerpt of the article from Healthline Magazine. To view the full article click on the link below)

  • A new study found that boys and girls tend to start life with similar math abilities.
  • Starting off, boys and girls tend to process math in similar ways.
  • The researchers suggest that negative stereotypes and other sociocultural factors may also be steering girls and young women away from math and related fields.
Math anxiety

Gendered stereotypes and biases might help account for the fact that girls are more likely than boys to experience math anxiety, or apprehension about doing math.

“There’s pretty good evidence that anxiety may tie up working memory resources and stop people from doing their best at math,” Julianne Herts, a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology and researcher in the cognitive development lab at the University of Chicago, told Healthline.

When parents and educators display math anxiety themselves, it may also shape the attitudes and performance of children around them. In this way, some mothers and female teachers may be unintentionally passing their own math anxiety onto younger generations of girls.

“When you act anxious around math, when you doubt your own mathematical abilities, kids are noticing these things and it’s shaping their interest and achievement,” Jane Hutchison, a doctoral candidate in psychology and member of the Math Brain Lab at Georgetown University, said.

“There is research that has shown that when female teachers in particular display math anxiety, their female students in particular are less likely to do well in math,” she added.


Full article


Be good at learning math:  Materialize abstract concepts to tackle mathematics disorders

Susan Levine

(Article appeared in Chinese in Ming Pao Daily and its education supplement Happy PaMa)

Article summary:

With the Education Bureau’s active promotion in STEM education in recent years, mathematics is regarded as the foundation for learning other disciplines. Prof. Susan Levine shared her views that family atmosphere is the key for math learning, and that merely memorizing or practicing calculation is not a good method.

Prof. Levine pointed out that generally, one-year-old kids are able to learn math while two-year-olds can do simple arithmetic. While she didn’t disagree about the importance of early education, she revealed that too much intensive practice would bring an adverse effect and make kids dislike math. Therefore, family interaction in daily life is the best way to nurture children’s interest and comprehension towards math. For example, parents can bake cakes with their children by putting three teaspoons of water or set tables by asking them to put four plates, etc. These help nurture children’s sensitivities towards math.

Prof. Levine further revealed that some people are affected by anxiety towards math learning, but it doesn’t mean they lack talent in math. She reminded parents who fear or hate math to adjust their attitudes, and not reveal how they hate math or how bad they are in math in front of their children. As children unconsciously follow their parents’ preferences, parents’ sensitivities towards math will directly affect their interest and confidence toward math learning.

Apart from reciting multiplier formula or doing workbook, Prof. Levine highlighted that asking questions to inspire children to think can further stimulate their learning potential and sensitivity toward math.  Body language and posture are also useful to provide hints to children.

When talking about Hong Kong’s spoon-feeding education, Prof. Levine agreed that Asian students generally have greater achievement than American students; however, they are under higher pressure. She pointed out that even if children answer wrongly, parents should not immediately condemn or be angry with them. Alternatively, parents should understand why their children got their answers wrong and encourage them to try again. This can prevent math anxiety and build up their children’s interest towards math.

Prof. Levine also introduced a mobile app called “bedtime math”, which her team developed for parents to solve interesting math problems together with their children aged between three and nine. Even parents who are anxious towards math can simply spend 5-10 minutes with their children to learn.


A Small Dose of Bedtime Math Goes a Long Way

Susan Levine and Sian Beilock, May 24 2016

Parents generally realize the benefits of reading a bedtime story to children before tucking them in for the night. They rightly believe that exposing their children to books can spark interest in reading, something that is key to success in school. But the last of the 3Rs—‘rithmetic (aka math)—receives little attention at home. In fact, parents of young children tend to think that math is something you learn at school and not at home. They’re wrong!

When parents routinely talk about math with their young kids during everyday activities and play (e.g., “we need to put four forks on the table because four of us are eating—one, two, three, four”) their children enter school with a stronger math background. Talking about numbers, shapes, patterns, measuring, and spatial relationships with kids helps them early in schooling and beyond. Case in point, the math that kids know at the start of kindergarten can predict school achievement in math (and even reading) throughout elementary school.

But many parents don’t feel comfortable with math; they panic when they have to help their children with math homework. These parents often suffer from “math anxiety,” something that is all too common in our culture. What’s a parent to do?

One option is a free online app called Bedtime Math, developed by Laura Overdeck.

Bedtime Math is designed to help parents and kids have conversations about stories that present interesting math problems. Unlike most other math apps, which tend to be geared towards children looking at a screen alone, the app involves collaboration between parents and children. Every day, a new Bedtime Math story is delivered to your phone or handheld device. Each story is math-infused and features questions that cater to a range of math levels.

Armed with this app, parents who may have never talked about math with their child now have a way to spark an interesting conversation. Topics vary widely and involve counting, shapes, and arithmetic. One math story is about finding a megalodon tooth, the tooth of a giant sea creature that lived about 15 million years ago. The easiest question, labeled “Wee Ones,” asks, “If you have a megalodon tooth, a great white shark tooth, a teeny whale tooth, and one of your own teeth, how many teeth are you holding in total?” Little Kids, Big Kids, and The Sky’s the Limit constitutes the other levels.

In a large research study with almost 600 first grade children, we found that when parents and children do Bedtime Math, kids learn more math over the school year than if they only do bedtime stories at home. And, the benefits of Bedtime Math were especially strong for children whose parents are anxious or uncomfortable with math.

This freely available math app can spark math-filled conversations, helping kids perform up to their potential. And when your child talks about math with you, they are learning more than the math content. They may start to value math because they see that their parent is taking the time to talk to them about it and use it to solve problems.

Most striking, it doesn’t take much time to make a difference. In our study, on average, parents and children were using the Bedtime Math app once a week and their math-filled interactions tend to be only a few minutes long. It’s likely that that these short, relaxed conversations with the Bedtime Math app spillover into everyday life, increasing parents tendency to talk with their kids about math at home.

So tonight, don’t just read your child a bedtime story, check out Bedtime Math.


This blog post was originally published on May 24th 2016 by the Brookings Institute — Skills for a Changing World. For more, see the Brookings Institute post.