In this episode Paul Andersen, an educational consultant and ...
In this episode we discuss visual-spatial learning with Alex Wolf and Dr. Vijal Parikh of Na2ure.com. Hear how they got started, about their Pattern Alphabet, and their work with SILC (Spatial Intelligence Learning Center) and the Tanzania Pilot Study with the Radius Foundation.
Alex Wolf had a playful childhood and a bang-up education at Exeter, RISD and abroad. Alex used her RISD training and her experience as a mom to establish Na2ure and provide children tools to express creatively through space, form, pattern and motion. She has developed a number or nature pattern games, including Ani-gram-it and BARK games, as well as the Periodic Table for Biology and Pattern ABC cards, a pre-verbal/pre-math way for young children to access visual-spatial learning and bring spatial skills to learning language and math. These patterns are just as relevant in K-12 up into university and beyond.
Na2ure co-founder Dr. Vijal Parikh is fascinated by the brain and how we learn. As a consulting psychiatrist for ThriveNYC, he provides care at multiple primary clinics. His work disadvantaged populations confirms the need for effective, creative learning tools that engage learners young and old.
If you like this podcast, consider supporting us at: www.patreon.com/PathToLearning/
Alex Wolf: Cognitive skills are not half verbal and half math. They’re one third verbal, one third math and one third spatial. And the US has zero testing and zero curriculum for spatial in K to 12. We really need this renaissance in spatial learning.
Vijal Parikh: Let’s make America spatial again.
John Pottenger: Welcome to the path to learning podcast where three ordinary guys explore the world of education,
Jay Irwin: what’s working, what’s broken,
Scott Bultman: … and what we can do to best advocate for children.
John: I’m John Pottenger.
Scott: I’m Scott Bultman.
Jay: And I’m Jay Irwin.
John: … and you’re listening to Path to Learning.
Scott: So today we’ve got Alex Wolf and VijalParikh of Na2ure, which is N-A, numeral two, U-R-E.com. They are working on some pretty fascinating things related to pattern recognition, pattern alphabet, spatial literacy. Vijal is a psychiatrist in New York who’s done a lot of clinical research into learning and Alex is a RISD-trained artists and a mom who got started working with her own daughter on a lot of this stuff. I’ve come in contact with them through Froebel. A lot of you know, the people that we’ve talked to and interviewed for the documentary project have all been people that have reached out to me about Froebel. So everything leads back to Friedrich. But before we get too far into today with Alex and Vijal, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge and to thank Anthony from Chicago. who’s our first Patreon supporter, the first of many to follow.
Jay: Thank you, Anthony.
John: We super appreciate it and we’re excited to have our first Patreon.
Scott: Yeah, that’s awesome. If you’re the kind of person that likes to get a shout out, and maybe something Wonderful in the mail, then by all means, look into our Patreon page. John, where is that?
John: It’s https://patreon.com/pathtolearning. All right, should we jump in?
Jay: Let’s do it.
Scott: Alex and Vijal, welcome. Tell us about Na2ure and about the pattern alphabet.
Alex: So I started Na2ure when my daughter was very little. I decided that she should have a system of learning from nature, which was visual and very intuitive for a small child. And that rolled into a full-time gig for me, which I started in 2010. And she’s now 18. So I’ve spent a good deal of my life now trying to figure out how humans learn … from their earliest, and even up through school and beyond into their professions … from nature and how that helps them organize ideas and concepts both physical, visual and theoretical.
Vijal: Yeah. And I’m Vijal and I came on to Na2ure a little bit after Alex formed nature. And my background is in psychiatry, I’m a psychiatrist. I also did a lot of neuro/bio and behaviors. So I’m also really interested in learning and bringing a little bit of that science background as well into sort of all the things we’re doing.
Scott: So Alex, I think a lot of parents would love to be able to do what you did. What kind of background did you have that sort of informed your ability to do this? Was it all instinctual, or did you have some training?
Alex: So interestingly enough, I was fairly academic. I ended up sort of stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, which was RISD. And I almost wondered why I had spent so much time working on non visual things I sort of it coalesced everything that I had known before about physical relationships of kinetic learning, visual learning, spatial learning, and suddenly I realized that the way artists think was really fascinating compared to the very academic way I had spent sort of through my high school years.
Scott: So Vijal, I’m guessing that your training and research validates what Alex has been doing. Can you tell us a little more about? Like, why are we learning the way that we’re learning currently, if there’s sort of an intuitive visual way out there?
Vijal: It’s unfortunate that we’re not learning more in the visual and the intuitive. I think there’s this whole deep thought of like education and testing and sort of what’s happened in the whole educational world is sort of counterintuitive to how we actually think and how we learn. I think there’s a lot of different learning styles. And unfortunately, what’s happened in modern education modern society is that we’ve needed to standardize things. I think one of the things that we really want to do is to take a lot of that standardization out and really think about the real core intrinsic way that we as humans have evolved to learn. The stuff that I’ve been doing in my past and also what I do now, with Na2ure really helps move that along.
Scott: So how should we be learning if we’re not doing it right now?
Alex: Well, this was something that became very fascinating to me. And I want Vijal to follow me on this. But when I had my daughter, I was really surprised by having the sort of one generation gap of, and I have a fantastic memory so I remember being a child very vividly down to like six months old. I remember how I interacted with things, what they felt like, and that experience of toys and things. So when I ended up in my 30s, having an infant I was really shocked that more progress had not been made, and it wasn’t smarter. And she ran up against, you know, the Disneyfication of everything as a four year-old, which was not only offensive to me, as a parent about play, but also as a woman with a female child. And so suddenly there was this, you know, the pink and blue aisle, which was offensive, this thing that really took you away from making and building and seeing that very abstract sense, which is one of the reasons why I dug the Froebel system so much. So interestingly enough Vijal was definitely able to follow up with some of this on his studies of animal behavior as well.
Vijal: Yeah, I mean, what’s really interesting is that throughout my education, a lot of Froebel wasn’t really mentioned. And it was only until I met Alex and really started doing more work with nature, and then understanding the work that Froebel USA was doing. Did I really make that connection where it says, oh, wow, this is actually really, very based really, in how we really should be learning. So to answer your original question, there’s no real actual … I don’t think there’s a prescribed sort of “this is how everybody should learn.” Everybody’s different. Everybody’s an individual. And I think one of the interesting things and the great things about Froebel is that it opens up that individuality it allows for children to be free thinkers that allows them to have individual thought and it really sort of helps them find their learning style. Some people are very tactile learners, other people are very visual learners. Other people are auditory learners. And I think having that flexibility is something that Froebel was interested in … something that we’re also interested in the products that we’re doing.
John: So I have a question. Maybe it’s a transitionary question about patterns, and pattern recognition. Can you talk a little bit about that? Are we hardwired to look for patterns? Or is that just a myth?
Vijal: Yeah, we absolutely are hardwired to look at patterns. I do a lot of … obviously from my other job, I’m a psychiatrist … so I do a lot of research and reading about learning, ADHD, dyslexia, and a lot of how we understand sort of the normal we have to look at the abnormal so when we start looking at brain dysfunction, and just orders. A lot of issues are stemming from visual processing auditory processing issues with not really understanding certain patterns. So if we’re to think about ADHD or dyslexia, a lot of the dysfunction there is about irregularity of pattern recognition. I think the other thing that we talked about and I was going to talk a little bit further on this is that patterning is like, when you think about how it’s taught in school, a lot of it is like repeating sequential patterns, red, green, red, green, red, green, you know.
Alex: A-B-B-A, B-B-A
Vijal: Right. But there’s so much more to patterns that we actually take for granted. Like you can look outside and you can see patterns of architecture, you can see patterns of buildings, you can see patterns of musical structure notes. And while there is repetition in that there’s, I think, we thought, wow, like, we’re looking outside and we’re seeing the world and there are certain other quote/unquote “patterns” that we’re seeing that maybe aren’t being described.
John: Why is that pattern recognition helpful, especially in the educational process the enterprise?
Alex: Well, learning is basically two things. One is that you’re trying to collect knowledge and compare and contrast it. And you’re also trying to connect it to prior knowledge. So you’re building this network of things that relate to each other, or contrast to each other, and each piece that you bring on needs to home. The interesting thing about the way you can structure patterning with visual learning is this idea that we’ll need to delve into spatial learning as how it relates to pattern and why we’re so interested in that and wine connects to Froebel, but the patterning piece of it helps you bring structure to a piece of information and what you’re trying to do is take a lot of random stuff and bring it into some order. Interestingly enough, Linnaeus is more googled than Jesus, and it’s because everybody wants to know to put the world in order … to make sense of us. And so interestingly enough, when you start having this vocabulary of patterns, if you will, that go through natural growth patterns, as well as geometry and symmetry, and then some other little pieces that can help you modify those ideas, you start realizing how many things are based around those structures. And one of the biggest questions we’re trying to answer is the natural pattern recognition. That is how we are hardwired as animals. So humans and animals [are] dependent upon the natural patterns of the world, evolutionary patterns. Meaning that we grew up alongside the same patterns. Are they basically the same thing? Are we wired for seeing these particular patterns? And that’s a very big question we’d like to do more digging into.
Vijal: So you know, Alex comes in from this from a very intuitive standpoint, and there is a lot of biological and neurological sort of confirmation of a lot of that. intuition. So we as humans, yes, are hardwired and primed to be able to see patterns. It’s part of our evolutionary survival skills. If we didn’t learn from patterns, and we wouldn’t have been able to evolve from, you know, being outside in the sort of caveman environment and knowing certain patterns or mistakes that we’ve made and learning from them. So a lot of learning is reinforced with patterns. There’s a lot of literature and sort of strengthening brain connections when we start doing repetition and you know, repetitive learning. But also there’s something intrinsically about our way of thinking that we really like seeing things in sequential patterns. There’s like certain things in nature that are also explained like the Fibonacci sequence and all that. And that’s also based on mathematical natural patterns. And we are almost evolved to like that intrinsically, because it makes sense on nature. So it should make sense for us. We should have co-evolved together with that.
Vijal: Well, that explains why I’m so fascinated by your pattern alphabet. I’m really drawn to the sequence of these patterns. Which I see the connection to nature. But why don’t you tell us a little more about how that got started and what you’re hoping to do with it.
Alex: There are several different efficient ways to capture a series of dots of how you can do something with the least amount of surface area, for example, or linear and that’s, you know, relates to surface tension and bubble. So you’re really into this sort of quite deep science that is evident to a two year-old who only has so many words, or even to a, you know, a child within this zero to five range, they’re going to be looking at some of these things. You can point it out, and they actually can see things and that’s where, to me the magic is really coming in is that these sort of big galactic sort of cosmological-down-to-the-micro-cellular-atomic-level things are actually very To a really small child. And this is where the interesting part of where I think the pattern of it really connects to Froebel is this idea that Froebel wanted children to go out and have these abstract what we would call like making toys designed toys where you build something else with the thing that you’re using, that they would go out and see nature. And then they would build with this design toy … these different shapes and blocks and tiles and things … what they saw. And so this evidence is there for them to explore. They can build a spiral, they can build different spirals at some point. It’s always great to see when a child sees a left spiral versus a right spiral. And you’re like, “Oh, wow.”
Vijal: It’s almost like we didn’t think that We were going to set out to make a pattern alphabet. It just sort of came to us while we were sort of trying to come up with a way to organize the way of how we were building games about nature. It was sort of the underlying of a lot of those games. And we’re like, oh, well, we see that there’s always like, certain symmetries that we’re seeing on our first game that we had, which was the the periodic table for biology. It was a game based on sort of, like Scrabble for like animals where you make words with letters, but we were seeing a lot of those repetitive patterns in biological forms. So then we just decided to put it on for a cheat sheet for ourselves. And then it kind of formed into this interesting, almost like periodic table, where we were able to sort of see sequences in a row and then almost have like the first row, which is the basic pattern, basic growth patterns. The second row is symmetry and then geometry and then modifiers.
Alex: Yeah, so the first way that I tried to work on games that Vijal is referencing is I wanted to figure out if … and this was something that was sort of an idea that was kicking around, I wasn’t the only one who had it … if children can learn all of these different games that have all these characters, and the characters have all these properties, why can’t they learn the tree of life? So the sort of first thesis of my work was, how do you create a set of games that children play from 4 through 14 at least, but maybe through high school as well? where they can learn the entire tree of life? How many games is that? What do they need to know? What are the big pieces of information that you can let them play their way into knowing? And that’s another way that we definitely overlap with Froebel is this concept of your playing to learn things because as you’re playing, all sorts of ideas are going to occur to you and they’re going to start coalescing around this sort of neural network of information that you’re building about this subject in your head. So in essence, what happened was I was convinced actually that there was a place where we could figure out like, what was the periodic table for biology? Did it exist?
Vijal: The answer was no, so Alex decided to go and build it. And then from there, it was like …
Alex: And that’s where the pattern alphabet came about. Because there was suddenly there were these parallels of symmetry in animals and plants where you have bilateral and you have radial, and I was like, “Oh, so here’s a big place that we need to go.” And so I just dove off into that piece.
Vijal: Yeah. Also, there’s like funny little stories that we could tell, like arguments we’ve had on what other patterns we should include. I was like trying to argue of chirality. And Alex was like wait, what’s chirality. And then I had to go into my organic chemistry learning and be like, well, it’s about handedness, left or right hand. And so over the sort of years, the pattern alphabet has evolved and we’re continuing to look for … It’s almost like going back to that analogy of the periodic table. You know, you You start developing or you find more molecules, and then you sort of add them into the periodic table. We do the same thing with the pattern alphabet. It’s a work in progress. But for what we found, it’s the best sort of compilation of a lot of different studies and papers and books about patterning.
Jay: Is this the kind of intelligence that we’ve lost as we’ve been disconnected from nature?
Alex: So the interesting part is that it’s it’s not lost, it’s dormant. Because if you, if you rearranged preschool classroom around this, it would just simply function more efficiently. It got broken out when everybody decided that life was about … that learning was about verbal and math, and that these other things didn’t really have a place there. I don’t know who got in charge of the US school system to really give it the hammering that it got, where it now is in contention with what cognitive scientists know, which is that we have cognitive skills are not half verbal and half math. They’re one third verbal, one third math, and one third spatial. And the US has zero testing and zero curriculum for spatial in K to 12.
Vijal: And it’s really unfortunate, because spatial is a huge, very big important factor in certain vocational skills. You know, if we’re thinking about the green economy or talking about sort of, you know, the future as a whole, we need more engineers, we need more … not even engineers, but people who are going to go and repair your fridge or your stove or all these other skills or jobs that have been lost over the years. A lot of that I think comes from spatial skills. A lot of other advanced jobs, like radiology and even dentistry has a huge level of spatial need in architecture. I mean, you go into a lot of these different fields and So I think what I’m saying is that it’s not really lost. It’s there. It’s within us. Like Alex says it’s dormant I think it could be reactivated and we want to activate it in early age so that we give the kids that back.
Alex: There’s a whole generation that actually was trained with some spatial something or other,
Vijal: like the Frank Lloyd Wright’s sort of the whole, you know …
Alex: You’re talking about people who are working professionally today, you know, I actually had some kind of spatial learning. Fortunately, I had art in my school. So I had art and I had dance.
Vijal: So you’re a sculpture major, so you know …
Alex: Well, but even in the in the K 12 before, what we’re not realizing now is this idea that we have a generation that kind of got lost into the “verbal/math workbook mania” that included a lot of testing, and then mountains of screens. And so, you know, there’s Froebel USA inventing kindergarten documentary that is working on “what happened to that generation?” So there’s actually adults who know what this is because they use it in their profession. And then we have to now go back and start with preschool again, to make sure that it’s in there and then weave it back in through K through 12, as well.
Vijal: Yeah. And the really cool thing that we’re doing, we’re partnering with the Spatial Intelligence Learning Center (SILC), and that’s currently at Northwestern.
Alex: It was funded by the NSF. And for 12 years, they did an enormous amount of research, and it was under Dr. Nora Newcomb at Temple University, and it sort of shifted its home over to Dr. David Uttal. Some of his stuff is doing geospatial semester, which is trying to see what happens if kids are learning things using maps. And that’s something that’s coming out of California, but they did fMRI studies and, you know, really saw that the kids in the group that got the intervention, their actual brain pattern of conceiving of these ideas changed. In comparison, there was different areas that were lighting up and connecting together compared to the ones who didn’t have the spatial thing.
So one of the interesting parts about the spatial learning is that it comprises many skills, you know, mental rotation, folding navigation things within your own body about how to, you know, knowing how to do a cartwheel or drive a bike, or, for example, you know, get to your grandma’s house in the forest.
But the other piece of it is that it’s really a huge part of our imagination. And you know, this concept of preschool … and I think a lot of what Froebel was going for that I really like … is that you go and you see something and then you try and recreate it. And that makes you really get into this deep noticing moment of like like, Okay, well, so how does this thing look? What is it? Like? What is it like from this side? What is it like from that side? And what it is that you’re able to produce these representations using these blocks and or things that you’re building with. It is really helping you that with this hand-eye coordination where it is your mind, your mind, you’re able to see your thinking in three dimensional space in front of you, you’re able to react to it, and then think more about it.
And so the concept of what you see with your eyes closed in your imagination versus what you see with your eyes open and what you’re able to manipulate, like, using the route of hand as this incredibly powerful thing that we’ve decided somehow in current preschools is not like the super magic that it is. This is your brain developing and functioning. And that’s one of the things that we really hope that the pattern alphabet is going to be able to bring back is this …
We did a pilot in Tanzania where it’s like two dimensions and three dimensions and what we call four dimensions, which is movement, and then identification of trying to explore the patterns on these different modalities so that each modality helps the other as this sort of continuum of how you interact with something and then hoping that that will really solidify the knowledge of each pattern and how the patterns relate to each other.
Scott: Yeah, tell us about what you’re doing in Tanzania. That sounds fascinating. I watched the video on YouTube that you guys have posted. So tell me a little more about the background of that.
Vijal: Yeah, it was really interesting. We’re really happy that we got to do a pilot study in Tanzania. We wanted to see if we could take this pattern alphabet and sort deliver it to a very, very, very rural area where they really didn’t have access to a lot of learning materials. And it was sort of, I mean, when people start thinking of studies, they want to do something where it’s easy, it’s accessible, we really want to do something hard like to go and just be like, let’s go to the most random rural place in Africa that we can go to and see what happens when we give them this pattern off of it. And we actually removed ourselves … three steps from the actual intervention. We had a researcher from University of Maryland, Dina Borzekowski, who was working with a whole group of teachers in Tanzania themselves that had a classroom of how many classrooms were there?
Alex: There were 21 schools. But the reason we chose Tanzania is that one of the things that we wanted to do was see whether we can get in the swim of how the UNICEF is conceiving of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for preschool and one of them was what The preschool like and then what is what they’re teaching. And we noticed when we read the report that actually nothing had been done to really make spatial into something that wasn’t just sort of spattered around like, you know, you salt your dish, we really thought that it should, it should be concrete. And at that way, not only did the teachers have a better way of teaching and understanding what it was, but the children were also receiving it in that manner. And so this area that we tested in in Tanzania is part of where UNICEF has been testing for multiple interventions, but also this goal.
Vijal: We wanted to do it primarily to I mean … we were having multiple meetings with UNICEF, so it wasn’t just like we randomly chose a place. But we did want to align with UN Sustainable Development Goals, as Alex said, and we’re actually in talks with them on they have an emergency relief kit box. It’s called the ECD kid and we’re trying to help redesign that and the really cool thing If you think about children and refugee areas or war torn areas or places where they have this sort of emergency evacuate, there is no real ability to have a structured education. So you kind of need to sort of drop in like an open play box kit kind of thing. And we were really trying to take the pattern alphabet, see if there was validity. And if there was some real usefulness in what the children were learning. And there was I mean, the results were really interesting, we were able to show that the children were able to learn with the pattern alphabet, they were able to have better line identification and shape naming from doing the pattern off of that intervention.
Alex: Yes, and we feel that there’s a couple things that are interesting about this one is that our next iteration we’d like to work on more drawing because we feel that preschoolers and this is part of what David Uttal studies which is symbolic systems. So the number three isn’t three of anything, necessarily in the curved sense, but it represents the number. And same with the letter B, for example, but if you get circle, triangle and square they they are what they are representing. So if you draw them, you’re learning this sort of a concrete system. The whole thing that happens with little kids is this concrete and abstract tension. You learn something that’s concrete like this happens. And then you have the ability to abstract it. So connecting that information together of drawing, and then the shapes that you would use to learn how to, to write numbers and letters is quite important.
Scott: Well, you know, this sounds great. I mean, it’s the kind of thing I wish my children had when they were younger. How do you handle it when people say, “Well, how is this going to help my child read or do math or pass the SATs?” and that kind of thing?
Alex: Interestingly enough, we’re finding that there’s a very interesting relationship with dyslexia. And part of that is the idea that lots of dyslexic people are highly spatial. So their, their lack of verbal skills is made up for by their higher ability and spatial and a lot of these kids are really missed. I can tell you that at RISD 50% easily, if not more, were dyslexic. So there’s a lot of intelligence that’s being lost by our school system. And it’s not just that we can that this spatial skills are important for the spatially talented kids and you can bring them into STEaM learning and they’re going to be in architecture, design and art as well as science, technology, math and engineering. You’re talking about, you know, everybody’s stuff, but as well as finding some of these kids and now pajamas actually been doing some reading where it’s connected to ADHD. There are big other side benefits to the system.
Vijal: But yeah, I mean to your question Scott, I think it is an uphill battle every day to convince people that you know … because it’s almost like something that it’s like, do you know that David Foster Wallace, “this is water” speech where you know, to fish are in a bowl, and they’re like, “hey, how’s the water?” And the fish are like, “well, what’s water?” It’s almost like that with with spatial. It’s like, hey, like spatial and you’re like, well, what spatial but it’s everywhere around you. And it’s sometimes becomes really hard to convince other people that they need to have more of this because I think we take it for granted. It definitely does help with really math, verbal and spatial. That was one of the things that we were able to identify in our Tanzania study.
So we’re hoping to be able to sort of be the spearhead message to try to go out to educators and continue to say, Look, listen, spatial is really important. And pattern alphabet helps with spatial and this sort of connects with foible and there’s this whole sort of interplay with all this that will eventually help your kid maybe not directly, you know, because you’re not learning ABC. or 123, or whatever, but sort of as a global underpinning scaffolding of your education and patterns.
Jay: So what do you think the consequences if we just continue to kind of ignore this will be?
Alex: We are trailing the world in STEM. The US is in a way that should be a hideous embarrassment to anybody who would like to think that we’re an educated nation. We are so incredibly behind. And there’s a number of factors for that. But one of the things that’s really interesting about the what we can do to fix this STEM/STEaM piece, and we definitely think of this in terms of STEM was a popular thing in the 2000s. And then it became STEaM and added the art for basically our design and architecture in 2010. And we’re hoping that 2020 is the early STEaM is spatial that We’re going to be able to get back to a lot more logical work that’s going to address the fact of our lack in the ability to manufacture things, our horrible performance in STEM. Because if you think about the pattern alphabet as being a lens into steam, you’re thinking about being able to see as a scientist and as an artist at the same time, and so we’d like to call it at nature as a sort of Da Vinci vision.
What we’d like to do is we’d like to get people back to this creative space where they understand the tools for creativity, but they also understand the value of what this can bring us what we’re missing here. Our economy focuses so much on what it is sort of a monetizable gain, but there’s this other thing called value and the value of the ideas that come out of people who are talented spatially, whether they’re talented in other things as well or just in their core spatial sense, is enormous. And this is something that really is for the creative spirit of what was the American nation and the amount of invention that we’ve had. We really need this renaissance in spatial learning.
Vijal: “Let’s Make America Spatial Again.”
Scott: Well, this ties back to what I’ve been trying to say, especially through the documentary is that if you look, when America took on this idea of kindergarten, this Froebel early childhood STEM spatial literacy program, right at the time the Industrial Revolution was dawning, that’s when America dominated in the world economy. And so I think that there’s a proven track record for what you guys are promoting. I think, you know, we have the story, we have the evidence, which highlights that this isn’t just some interesting concept … that it actually happened. And then when we took ourselves off of this gold standard a century ago, we triggered 100 year decline in the quality of education in this country. But it could just be me.
Alex: Yeah, no, it’s truthfully, you know, there’s a horrible thing that happened also, which was that we devalued manual labor, as if it were not as, as if it were a lower class thing. And it truly is not. And it we are the only country that believes that now. And it’s because of what you’re talking about, Scott, it’s because we’ve taken ourselves away from making things.
Vijal: Yeah, and you know, in this time of COVID, it sort of speaks directly to me as a doctor and somebody that has a lot of friends who are in the hospitals who don’t have protective equipment. PBE and, you know, we’re like, whoa, what happened and it sort of speaks to America, stop manufacturing, and it’s really been a big problem through many of the decades.
Alex: and that has to do with a little bit have our obsession that somehow verbal and math are more elevated more erudite kind of skills. And that spatial … any sort of manual trade …is not. But you know, it’s it’s the same thing of plumbing and engineering are using the basic same core tenants. So …
Vijal: Cardiology and plumbing,
Alex: I mean, and so being able to being able to see the synthesis between all of these things and to bring them into a flatter playing field. I think it’s a little bit of a Thomas Friedman “The World is Flat,” but it is we do need to flatten those skills up again and realize how we’re each differently built but this uniqueness can come together.
Jay: So I have two daughters, I want to get to work on this stuff with them. What can I start doing?
Alex: So we are developing some products that should be out this year. The pattern alphabet cards will be coming out and we also have some games that are on our Our website Our website is nature with a two, so na2ure.com. And that’s a resource for the pattern alphabet, as well as this periodic table of biology … for biology, which is the Ani-Gram- It game. And we also have another BARK game, which is a pattern game, again, learning from nature’s patterns.
Vijal: And we’re gonna be working with Scott to develop more pattern alphabet activities and put it on platform learning platform. So if you just go onto our website, you can subscribe to our newsletter and you know, you can get up-to-date information on what we’re doing and when new products are coming out. But right now you can get the ferret which is an iPad app, and also the Ani-Gram-It game on our website.
Scott: Well, it’s really exciting. I’m really glad you guys could spend some time with us today. I love the stuff that you’re working on. I think it really … you know the research and the products are really gonna be a big deal. It validates a lot of stuff that I’ve been working on so I again, I could be biased but I’m really excited and you both being here with us today.
John: I can’t wait to see some of these materials and start working on them with my own kids. So
Vijal: Thank you so much for having us.
Alex: Thank you. We look forward to products and also getting you at some point up to speed on how NASA is using the pattern alphabet for their AI projects.
Scott: Well, let’s agree to do this again. As soon as we can.
Vijal: Okay, perfect.
Scott: Awesome. So I thought that was pretty fascinating. What did you guys think?
John: You know, the hard part for in the podcast format is you can’t see these pattern alphabet things that they’ve created. It’s just visually so compelling to see. So if you haven’t seen it, you definitely need to go to their website to check it out.
Scott: And there’s also a YouTube channel now with some of the videos about their work in Tanzania. We’ll have some links to their products, the Ani-Gram-It and other games that they’ve already produced and and really got my fingers crossed, they’re going to be able to join us for the conference this year and in Boston, but if not in person, we will be definitely doing more virtually. And I’m looking forward to maybe having him back on the podcast too. So
Jay: Yeah absolutely. We didn’t even get to hear about their work with NASA.
John: I guess you’ll have to tune in for a future episode where they talk about that. That’s pretty key.
Scott: That’s about as close to a cliffhanger as we get. I guess.
Jay: That’s it. That’s it.
John: All right. Thanks everyone for joining us today we would love to continue to stay connected with you so if you want to join what we’re doing you can visit us at gardenofchildren.org or if you want to sponsor us and and help fund this podcast and other efforts that we’re doing to advocate for children and fix the education system in the small ways that we can try to do that you can join us on http://patreon.com/pathtolearning.
Jay: Smash that like button
Scott: Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok
John: all the places … not those ones.
Scott: Not Tinder. Not Tinder.
John: Not Tinder.
Jay: Well, thank you, everyone, and we’ll see you next time.
Scott: Yep, see you again soon.