What are the letters spelling “28 LIBERTY” made of Geometiles doing on a hot summer day in Lower Manhattan? The venue was 28 Liberty NYC, a space next to an iconic office building on 28 Liberty Street in the heart of New York’s Financial District. The event was the 7th Annual New York City Math Festival (NYC Math Festival) organized by the National Museum of Mathematics . The unusual perspective in the image above serves as a metaphor for the new insights I gained into the role of Geometiles as a learning and child development tool, particularly in the context of the post-pandemic era, where children continue to grapple with the consequences of prolonged social isolation and extensive online learning experiences.
As I looked around the Geometiles area of the festival, at any given point in time I could see someone collaborating, having raucous fun, or in deep concentration.
Then I realized that all the activities and experiences I observed were things children were deprived of during the pandemic, and research has consistently shown that this deprivation has led to a concerning learning loss. Collaboration, a vital aspect of learning and teamwork, was noticeably affected as physical interaction and group activities became limited. It has been extensively reported in research that children’s development of fine and gross motor skills has suffered significantly during this period. Fine motor skills, which are a crucial foundation for tasks such as writing, drawing, and manipulating small objects, were hindered due to the lack of hands-on learning experiences and reduced access to school resources like Geometiles.
And look at the intense concentration of the siblings in the last photo. After learning online for months, children very much need the tactile feedback that Geometiles provide. For years, scientists have been telling us that fine motor skill development is closely tied with success in a variety of academic subjects. In the case of Geometiles, kids can learn math and hone their fine motor skills at the same time. And with the right tools and environment, they can initiate fun projects that they are proud of!