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Developing Individual Learning

How does QuantumCamp build science and math courses to engage students?

Each child learns at a different level

Learning occurs when students are delivered content just beyond, but not too far beyond, what is currently known by the learner.

This theory has a name known to educators as the Zone of Proximal Development (“ZPD”), first used by a Russian psychologist named Lev Vygotsky who studied cognitive development.

Here is a way to visualize the theory:

If this Zone is missed in either direction (meaning the curriculum is either too easy or too hard), the consequences are dire. Disruptive behavior, loss of interest, self-identifying as ‘not smart’, etc., etc…

However, if classes are designed well, they present a compelling task that is challenging yet deemed achievable by students (They hit the ZPD!). This means students:

  1. Naturally, want to collaborate and find solutions to the posed challenge.

  2. Experience satisfaction and confidence in having completed a challenge.

  3. Are eager for the next lesson

Now, learning is occurring and students are enjoying school!

Of course, teachers are always trying to hit this zone. But it is difficult - the same lesson will be too easy for some kids, too hard for others in the same class. And there are many variables at play - the teachers themselves, the students in the classroom, available technology, on and on...

Teachers simply don’t have the time and resources to manage small cohorts of students broken into groups by academic ability. Technology hasn’t delivered as promised on this front either, as demonstrated by continuing dismal test results nationally and studies that show software-based learning is not effective and eliminates the social element, a key component of cognitive development (Source 1, Source 2).

What is QuantumCamp’s solution to this vexing problem?

All of our courses (Live Online or Self-Paced) are broken into a series of challenges, each one of which is compelling and achievable.

Kids will work hard and need to persevere. And they will enjoy the challenge! This is part of the objective. When they succeed they will have built confidence and enjoyed a satisfying learning experience. They want to learn more!

We know this because we have thousands of testimonials to exactly this effect from parents and students themselves.

Our curriculum products layer into the fabric of a child’s life. While skill-building and practice are important, these things should follow experiences that drive curiosity and interest in the topic.

We create sets of challenges (including offline challenges!) that require the student to create, record and synthesize data. They incorporate data from other sources. They make first-hand observations and draw conclusions.

Our learning structures let kids do math and science anytime, just for fun, and we support them throughout the process.

  • They can email a professional scientist or mathematician anytime and tune into online office hours.

  • Their work and findings can be reviewed by professional educators who provide feedback and nurture academic growth.

  • They are part of a collaborative community of learners worldwide.

This is our passion and pursuit. We see that learning is occurring and students are enjoying it!

We hope that Lev would agree and that he’d be happy to see us target the ZPD at QuantumCamp!

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