Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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Contact: Bridget Lewis
University of Texas at Arlington

UT Arlington mind, brain and education researcher develops STEM gift guide for parents

A neuroscience researcher in the University of Texas at Arlington College of Education has developed a holiday gift guide that can help parents engage children ages 5 to 10 in science, technology, engineering and math concepts.

The "Neuroscience Primer" was developed through a partnership between the College's Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education and the Research and Learning Center launched earlier this year in collaboration with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

"Graduate students in my Development of Cognition course spent a semester at the Research and Learning Center investigating important skills that children need to have at the elementary age," said Evie Malaia, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. "The skills are not things that can be explicitly taught. Rather, they are skills that most children acquire over time and with experience."

Malaia cited, for example, a child's ability to retain multiple constraints in their mind, which helps them use their executive system. The executive system regulates, controls and manages other cognitive processes.

"Children need to pool resources with others and cooperative games help them learn all of this," Malaia said. "These games are social and at a young age, interaction with parents and others is the most important way for a child to learn."

Among other games, the gift guide features:

  • Blink - promotes task switching
  • Cubulus - helps with spatial cognition
  • Fish Stix - supports the ability to negotiate interpersonal relationships
  • Rat-A-Tat-Cat - encourages the ability to reason with numerical concepts
  • Simon - helps with memory encoding

Debbie Cockerham, an alumna of the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education program, serves as director of the Research and Learning Center. She worked with families during the pilot phase and said the gift guide is a key example of the researcher-public collaborations that the center seeks to create.

"It's great to see that an outgrowth of Dr. Malaia's studies is addressing a need expressed by many participants' families," Cockerham said. "The Research and Learning Center's goal is to bridge the communication between researchers and the public, and this is an ideal public service product that resulted from that collaboration."


The Neuroscience Primer: Holiday Gifts for Elementary School Kids guide is available online at http://eviemalaia.weebly.com/usefulness.html. Featured items range in price from $5 to $149.96, and are available online at Amazon.com, via other websites and at most retail stores that carry children's toys and games.

About the College of Education

The College of Education is fully accredited through the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and in 2006 became the first College of Education within the UT System to receive accreditation through the prestigious National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The college currently offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Visit http://www.uta.edu/coehp to learn more.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 40,000 students in Texas and around the world and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.