Abrahamson, D. (2011, March). Kinemathics: the Mathematical Imagery Trainer. 

Interactive breakout session and hands on demo session. Cyberlearning Tools for STEM Education Conference. Berkeley, March 8-9.

The Kinemathics project uses videogame remote-control technology to create embodied-interaction problem-solving activities for mathematics students to learn challenging topics. Engaging in these activities, students initially discover, rehearse, and explain pre-symbolic, multimodal solution strategies. Subsequently, the students avail of virtual representations, such as a Cartesian grid, as strategic and discursive instruments for progressively elaborating their strategies into grounded conceptual meanings.  Our design rationale is inspired by the emerging cognitive-sciences embodied/enactive hypothesis, by which human perception, reasoning, and action share a common neural basis and, in particular, (mathematical) reasoning tacitly engages schematic cognitive traces created in the service of purposeful activity. Our first project took on the middle-school content of proportion (e.g., 2/3 = 4/6). National assessments repeatedly document students’ inappropriate “additive” reasoning about this essentially multiplicative relation (e.g., 2/3 = 4/5). We attribute students’ non-normative reasoning to a paucity of personal opportunity to develop appropriate dynamical imagery by which to make sense of these symbols. Our design, the Mathematical Imagery Trainer (MIT), simulates conceptually appropriate opportunities.  The Kinemathics project has been funded by a UC Berkeley grant (COM-FRG; Abrahamson, PI). To date, we have implemented our design with 22 Grade 4-6 students who participated as individuals or pairs in tutorial-style usability tests. Publications coming out of the project have included conference proceedings papers. During the demo session, conference attendees will interact with the design. In the breakout session, we will present video footage of children’s interactions with the MIT.