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Math Education Television Science Technology

Sesame Street Begins Teaching Math and Science 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the c-is-for-cookie dept.
An anonymous reader sends in this excerpt from ABC News: "This season of 'Sesame Street,' which premiered today, has added a few new things to its usual mix of song, dance and educational lessons. In its 42nd season, the preschool educational series is tackling math, science, technology, and engineering — all problem areas for America's students — in hopes of helping kids measure up. ... This season, 'Sesame Street' will include age-appropriate experimentation — even the orange monster Murray will conduct science experiments in a recurring feature."
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Sesame Street Begins Teaching Math and Science

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  • Right on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @07:29PM (#37533626)

    This alone will probably do more to improve education than the entire No Child Left Behind Act. Provided, of course, that it actually teaches the purpose of experimentation and science, teaches kids to ask "why?" and devise experiments to test ideas. All too often, "kid science" is "do this, then this, and now look at the pretty (green goo|flames|shiny), followed by a lecture on what went on. I'm hopeful that this will be one of the ones to get it right.

    • Re:Right on! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by migla (1099771) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @07:36PM (#37533690)

      I have no kind of inkling about the first sentence of the previous poster, but the part about 'teaches kids to ask "why?"' I'd like to amend: Hope it teaches them to want to ask "why?".

      (Or maybe that would obviously be implied?)

      • Re:Right on! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Cryacin (657549) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @07:46PM (#37533802)
        Shut up. Not now. I'm busy.

        These are words that should never be uttered by a parent to a child. Why? Because it promptly snuffs the flame of curiosity. Most parents don't even realise they're doing it. They're just too absorbed in whatever they're doing to notice what they've just said to their curious 3 year old.
        • by feepness (543479)

          Shut up. Not now. I'm busy.

          These are words that should never be uttered by a parent to a child.

          ...if you want your child to grow up thinking that they should be the center of attention in every situation they enter.

          On the other hand, if you want your child to be a polite and functional member of society, you can ensure they aren't in any immediate distress, and then explain to them that they can wait briefly for your attention.

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        I think that's implied. The goal of any real teaching (at least for children) isn't just "teach them how to ____", but "teach them to want to ___".

        English isn't just "teach kids to read and write", it's "teach them to love reading great books and want to write their own". Programming isn't just "teach them how to make a computer do something", it's "teach them to enjoy making a machine do whatever they want". Music isn't just "teach them to play music", it's "teach them to enjoy playing and writing their ow

      • Re:Right on! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @08:03PM (#37533988)

        Probably because NCLB was an unfunded mandate which had bench marks set via standardized testing of a rather elaborate nature. Also due to the stakes it tends to crowd out significant portions of the year when teachers are theoretically supposed to be teaching.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        I have no kind of inkling about the first sentence of the previous poster, but the part about 'teaches kids to ask "why?"' I'd like to amend: Hope it teaches them to want to ask "why?".

        (Or maybe that would obviously be implied?)

        Sesame Street is for pre-school kids - they are already asking "why?" quite a lot. The problem starts when they go to school and the only answer they get is: "Shut up, listen and obey".

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          There's an additional problem: for those who aren't deterred by the school system telling them "shut up, listen and obey", and are still interested in science by the time they're in high school, they lose interest when they do a little research and find that careers for scientists basically suck. A few of them switch over to engineering, where at least the pay is pretty decent until you're 40 and can't get hired due to age discrimination, but the rest of them just go into other fields having nothing to d

    • The 'do this then do that' teaching method may have pros. There is a hypothesis that imitating may provide the quickest way to expand and increase complex skills. I say this as someone who enjoys experimenting and feel compelled to understand things.

      Chimpanzee vs. Human child learning
      Part 1 [youtube.com] Part 2 [youtube.com]
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        For teaching skills, perhaps. But science, on its own, is not really a practical skill for most people (how often do you run an actual experiment?). The benefit and the purpose for teaching science is to teach people to think skeptically and logically, to learn to examine the data.

        • For kids, it HAS to be practical! Kids love to see stuff work due to their actions. Just knowing that it works isn't enough for them, and showing them the chemical reaction on a sheet of paper is most likely boring them, while having them actually carry out some experiment is surely exciting for them. Also, a lot of chemical reactions (well, the kid-appropriate ones at least) teach you patience and carefulness, because you have to wait for the reaction to happen and you have to make sure to measure and weig

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            That's not the kind of "practical" I meant. I meant practical as in "being likely to be effective and applicable to a real situation; able to be put to use", not "based on practice or action rather than theory or hypothesis".

            • Practicality (in that sense) doesn't matter in the slightest for kids. Kids are looking for something "fun" to do, not something that "makes sense". I have rarely heard a child ask "but ... what is it good for?" if they found something they considered neat.

              Besides, leave it to the child to find some practical use for it. They have a lot of imagination, they'll surely come up with something you didn't even think of!

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      You really don't understand children, do you? Suddenly they now have a reason to switch the channel and watch something less educational...
      • You really don't understand children, do you? Suddenly they now have a reason to switch the channel and watch something less educational...

        As opposed to the #1 Nielson spot the discovery channel gets each week among adult viewers... :)

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Considering my favorite show growing up was Magic School Bus, I'm pretty sure that some kids actually (GASP!) like being educated if it's entertaining.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      teaches kids to ask "why?" and devise experiments to test ideas.

      Straight from the "too little, to late" pool: much good it will do them when the corporate boss will say "Because I said so. And, BTW, this is 1... pray you don't count to 3".

      </pessimistic>

    • Do more? With any luck, it might remedy the dumbing down of the curricula the NCLB bullshit got us.

      And while I doubt that it will be more than the rote spell science, this alone is already maybe enough to get kids interested in science. I know it worked for me to watch the various education TV shows as a kid (that's what we had on Saturday mornings, no cartoon network for me). The "why" comes by itself once the child is interested in something.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I can't help but wonder exactly what the viewership stats for Sesame Street are these days. I watched it as a kid, but that was ages ago when cable TV was brand-new (actually it might have been just before cable TV came around).

      Now with all the corporate-crap channels, including Disney (which is a sad shadow of what it was in decades past), I seriously question just how many kids will even see this.

      • Apparently they got 3.5 Nielsen rating last year, which from what I could gather represents around 5.5 million homes. This just in the US, of course.

  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @07:30PM (#37533634) Homepage

    What about when they get to E=MC2

    Because last time i checked, C is for cookie, thats good enough for me

  • Is Bill Nye dressing up as Big Bird?
    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      Bill Nye was awesome! ah good times, watching that show. I never did get into beakman's world though, the rat disturbed me.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Bill Nye is OK if you didn't have access to Mr. Wizard. Bill Nye's show was way too fluffy and tended to make science a freakshow. Mr. Wizard was a lot more sedate and the science he used was much more front and center without the cheap gimmicks.

      • The only true TV scientist is Beakman [imdb.com]. Bill Nye is a Beakman wannabe, 100000x less interesting. But Bill had the backing and so Beakman was lost to us all.

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          Beakman's World was great, no doubt about it, but Bill Nye was also good - certainly not 100000x less interesting. I'd take the worst episode of Bill Nye over whatever crap is on Nickelodeon these days. Are there any science shows for kids left?

    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      And Mr Wizard as Oscar?
  • Sounds great to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @07:43PM (#37533772) Homepage Journal
    If Sesame Street helps reduce the frequency of math-phobes in our young population, I will be eternally thankful. Too many people have escaped learning math due to being afraid of it; if they are introduced to it at a young age they might not develop an irrational fear of it.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      The reason people are afraid of math is usually around the time they get an 8th grade math teacher, you know, after all the easy stuff is over and they get boring Mr. so and so who will explode your brain with geometry, algebra and trig that he barely understands himself. You know, the guy who actually has negative creativity and sucks it out of anyone he speaks to. The guy who is capable of putting students to sleep from across campus. Yeah, that guy. It then becomes a case of learn the formula, try to pas
      • The reason people are afraid of math is usually around the time they get an 8th grade math teacher, you know, after all the easy stuff is over and they get boring Mr. so and so who will explode your brain with geometry, algebra and trig that he barely understands himself. You know, the guy who actually has negative creativity and sucks it out of anyone he speaks to. The guy who is capable of putting students to sleep from across campus. Yeah, that guy. It then becomes a case of learn the formula, try to pass the test, another term over with, rinse, repeat.

        Poor instruction is one component, for sure. However you failed to mention another one that is equally important in students' attitudes toward math.

        Parents.

        Children of math-phobes tend to almost invariably grow up to be math-phobes themselves. Children whose parents got away with failing math will be allowed to fail math as well. Their parents saw it as scary and meaningless, so they will see it the same. The greatest math teachers in the world can't teach math to someone who comes in the room beli

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Being a parent of two now adult children, I can't say I agree. While there are environments that are conducive to learning and environments that aren't, you can't blame it all on the parents. I have two children who both grew up in the same household and were raised to the same standard. One of them loves math and has pursued a university career that involves math. The other hates studying, hates math, and probably wouldn't qualify as a burger-flipper. If "the parents" are to blame, please discuss this quit
    • by hedwards (940851)

      That helps, but ultimately math phobia seems to generally be the result of incompetent instruction and sometimes poor instruction plus some sort of learning disorder. It definitely could be a matter of a small sample size, but that seems to be the cause. That and the societal acceptance of math as being hard and scary.

    • by hey! (33014)

      I'd make my kids watch it, but they like math and they're afraid of monsters.

      *sigh* It's not easy being green.

    • by cosm (1072588)

      if they are introduced to it at a young age they might not develop an irrational fear of it.

      You should get rid of your irrational fear of math and ***puts on shades*** replace it with integer quotients. Yeeeaaaahhhhhh

  • I for one would like to see Elmo experiment with fire.

    Sorry, I meant "experimented".

  • is brought to you by the Avogadro number [wikipedia.org].
    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @08:39PM (#37534354)

      I can see the Count now: "The number of the day is 3, Point, 1, 4, 1, 5, *ha ha ha*, 9, 2, 6, 5, 3, *ha ha ha*, 5....."

      Much, much later in the episode....

      Count (very tired): "... 2... 8... 1.... 3... ah, I quit!" (collapses from exhaustion)

      • by digitig (1056110)
        Count: "The number of the day is i. Yes, it turns out I'm imaginary!"
        • by wierd_w (1375923)

          Today's episode is brought to you by the number "i", "e", and "pi".

          (Count von count enters the scene with a notebook, and a pencil. Cookie monster comes in from the opposite stage carrying a giant bag of crystallized fructose.)
          (Cvc)
          One! One giant bag of sugar!
          (CM)
          Not now! Cookie monster must work dayjob to pay rent! Cookie monster get cushy job at cookie factory downtown-- cookie monster must make 2 MILLION cookies before end of week! (Hushed voice) (but cookie monster no can count high enough to figure out

  • Please say this means more Beaker and Bunsen. While more Muppets than Sesame Street, they could still have a (hilarious) place in such education entertainment.

    Of course, Bunsen might need to learn a bit of science, first...

  • 1, 1 electrons, 2, 2 electrons, 3, 3 electrons, 4, 4 electrons , 5, 5 electrons , 6, 6 electrons, 7, 7 electrons!

  • Johnny was a scientist,
    but Johnny is no more.
    For what Johnny thought was H20,
    was H2SO4.

  • I still don't understand math. I can manipulate the symbols but I don't understand what the symbols represent. I believe that as a student in any discipline, understanding the things that the symbols represent is far more essential than being able to decode the symbols without comprehension.

    Sure I have basic concepts down such as whole numbers, but more complex functions are completely lost on me.

    I would be ever grateful to a math educator who could teach understandable concepts first, followed distantly by

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      You can't read Shakespeare before learning what sound an 'A' makes, and you can't learn math without first memorizing what '+' means. Your problem is from poor instruction when you were in middle school, or maybe late elementary. At Sesame Street age, kids need to learn the language so that they can be instructed in it later. Some concepts are nice, just so they can see what the symbols are used for and know they're important, but in early elementary memorization of basic facts really is important.

    • I still don't understand math. I can manipulate the symbols but I don't understand what the symbols represent. I believe that as a student in any discipline, understanding the things that the symbols represent is far more essential than being able to decode the symbols without comprehension.

      There is a school of mathematics Formalism [wikipedia.org] that holds that mathematical is more about symbolic manipulation than about what the symbols represent.

    • by jasomill (186436) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @11:33PM (#37535590)

      I still don't understand math. I can manipulate the symbols but I don't understand what the symbols represent.

      Spoken like a true algebraist! "The symbols" represent anything you want them to, subject only to whatever "ground rules" the desired algebraic manipulations require.

      I believe that as a student in any discipline, understanding the things that the symbols represent is far more essential than being able to decode the symbols without comprehension.

      I'd go further and question what it means in the first place to "learn" something without understanding it. In this sense, what one needs to "understand" is that the value of algebra is precisely that the symbols are "meaningless." This extends directly to C.S., and, for that matter, bookkeeping — using one set of symbols and procedures to enumerate, say, sheep, and another for, I don't know, ice cream cones, would be a major PITA.

      Sure I have basic concepts down such as whole numbers, but more complex functions are completely lost on me.

      If you take a nonzero complex number to be a positive "scale factor" and an angle (i.e., taking "polar coordinates"), you can think of them as geometric transformations, namely, rotation and uniform scaling about some fixed point in the plane. Then "complex multiplication" is simply "composition of transformations," which, as you can easily see from the geometry, happens to be commutative. Incidentally, quaternions are heavily used in computer graphics for similar reasons in three dimensions.

      And addition of complex numbers is just "vector addition" in the plane, a.k.a. "adding arrows," a.k.a., adding pairs of numbers "componentwise." But you can do that in exactly the same way for triples, quadruples, quintuples, . . ., n-tuples of numbers; what's special about complex numbers is that they also have multiplication that follows the exact same rules as "ordinary" multiplication. And again, what they "represent" is entirely up to you — they're often used in physics and engineering to represent a great variety of phenomena. What do these phenomena have in common? The simple and seemingly bone-headed, but nevertheless true answer really does seem to be, "similar equations." This is no different, conceptually, than what counting sheep and counting ice cream cones have in common, namely, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . . whatever these "mean."

      I would be ever grateful to a math educator who could teach understandable concepts first, followed distantly by symbolic notation. Now that you understand what I'm taking about, I'll give this concept a name: "numbers vs numerals"

      Highly recommended reading. [caltech.edu]

      While I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments, I tend to feel the problem is less one of "notation" per se and a more fundamental one of poor communication — funny symbols are just shorthand for (lots and lots of typically tedious and quite repetitive) words, after all. The main purpose of mathematical speech, including, without limitation, the sort used in the classroom, is communication. While this is no different than any other subject, I'm amazed at the number of students and teachers, "good" and "bad" alike, who seem to think it is.

      In an unrelated nod to the article, how is this "news"? I'm 33 years old, and the Count [wikipedia.org] has been around for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years longer than me! (cue laughter and lightning)

  • ... a truly marvelous proof of this, which this Cookie Monster Lunchbox is too narrow to contain.

  • NPR and PBS are the best mass-media expression of USA democracy I've seen in my half-century of existence. Unfortunately, cunts like Rupert Murdoch can afford to jam their signals.

  • by antdude (79039) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @09:51PM (#37534862) Homepage Journal

    Check the latest uploads in https://www.youtube.com/user/SesameStreet [youtube.com] ... They even have two major The Big Bang Theory [cbs.com] actors in it!

  • Can you imagine if they did evolution. The apoplectic response from the Religious Right would give the late night stand up comics enough material for weeks.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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