Thursday, July 29, 2004
|UW's team -- the Waterloo Aerial Robotics Group -- took first place in the 2004 International Aerial Robotics Competition, held at Fort Benning, Georgia. Earlier results from this year's competition included the award for Best Technical Paper, but the team has now confirmed that it won first place overall, edging out the University of Arizona. An essential part of the victory: successful completion of Level 1 (fully autonomous flight around a 3-kilometre course). Pictured with their machine are, left to right, Brent Tweddle, Steve Buchanan, Matthew Black, and Benoit Deguire.|
In the study, three and four-year-old children were shown a book that contained only pictures and were asked to tell the story to a puppet. The children were not prompted in any way and were free to say as much or as little about each page as they wished.
"Children were told the puppet had never heard the story before, and so this made it a fun thing for children to do. They really enjoyed telling the story to the puppet," explained O'Neill, a professor of developmental psychology. "Having children tell the story on their own, without any adult prompting, also allowed us to better see what they were able to accomplish on their own and to get a more sensitive measure of their storytelling ability."
O'Neill looked at several aspects of children's storytelling ability. Some aspects captured grammatical complexity, such as children's use of relative clauses or the length of their sentences. Other aspects involved more perspective-taking on the part of the child.
"In the story, a child brings his pet frog to a restaurant and lots of funny things happen as the frog begins to jump around and cause all sorts of mayhem," O'Neill said. "This made it possible to see how well children were able to talk about the feelings or thoughts of the characters in the story . . . and switch clearly from talking about one character to another," she said.
Two years later, the children were brought back and given a number of tests including a test of mathematical achievement. O'Neill found that children who scored highly on the math test had also scored highly on certain measures of their storytelling ability two years earlier.
"It was only certain aspects of storytelling that were related to later mathematical ability," she says. "Most strongly predictive of children's mathematical performance was their ability to relate all the different events in the story, to shift clearly from the actions of one character to another, and to adopt the perspective of different characters and talk about what they were feeling or thinking."
This study suggests that building strong storytelling skills early in the preschool years may be helpful in preparing children for learning math when they enter school.
"Almost all children experience the world of storytelling before they begin their journey into the world of mathematical thinking, and there's an intriguing possibility that providing children with experience with storytelling may later enhance their ability to tackle problems in the mathematical arena," said O'Neill. "It is also a nice finding, I think, because storytelling is something every parent can easily do and foster with their children, without the need to buy any fancy toys or materials."
She is continuing in further studies, also funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, to explore more precisely what aspects of storytelling are linked to aspects of mathematical ability.
"There is a lot more to know about how these two domains of thinking are related. Both storytelling and mathematics involve many different abilities and we are trying to determine what the overlapping abilities are that might explain why being better at certain types of storytelling skills might help when tackling certain kinds of mathematical problems," O'Neill said.
Among items taken were research data that are irreplaceable and of great personal value to them, but of absolutely no commercial value. One has lost field research data on groundwater problems, and the other, original creative writing composed in collaboration with Prof. Anne Simpson of St. Francis Xavier University, winner of the prestigious Griffin national poetry prize.
|ONE CLICK AWAY|
Most important are the floppy discs in the green backpack and the contents of a black "CSPG conference" nylon briefcase, especially the CDs and floppy discs and the approximately 100 sheets of thesis draft with handwritten corrections.
These items or messages regarding their location, can be returned by mail to me, Prof. Greg Michalenko, ERS, University of Waterloo, N2L 3G1. My office is in Environmental Studies 1, room 222. Anonymous messages can be left at any hour through the automated UW number, 885-4567, at my extension, 6577.
No questions asked. I only want to reunite these two good young people with the work they've put their hearts into.
|WHEN AND WHERE|
Architecture student thesis exhibition, today through August
4, Environmental Studies II.
Pre-departure meeting for students going on work term in the United States with CDS sponsorship agency, 9:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Meeting for students going to the US with other sponsorship agencies, 4:30. Meeting for students going to other countries for fall work term, 2:30, with follow-up meeting August 5.
Shad Valley program open house, 1:30 to 4:30, Conrad Grebel University College great hall.
Spiritual Heritage Education Network presents Meenakshi Bauri, "Consciousness from a Different Perspective", 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 4021.
Alumni night at Tennis Masters Canada, 7 p.m., Rexall Centre, York University, details online.
A symposium on the use of Mathcad -- a software product for calculation and graphing -- will run from 1 to 5 p.m. in the "fishbowl" lounge in the Davis Centre. Introductory speakers will be Adel Sedra, UW's dean of engineering, and Beth Porter, vice-president of Mathsoft, the firm that sells Mathcad. Then faculty members from chemistry, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, geography, mechanical engineering and physics will be heard from, each with 20-minute reports on how they use Mathcad in their teaching and research. "Additional posters," says Colin Campbell of information systems and technology, "will demonstrate the use of Mathcad in statistics, numerical analysis, image processing, and signals and systems." Details are online.
Donald Cathers, a sergeant in the UW police who's been working at the university since 1979, officially retires August 1. . . . St. Paul's United College is advertising for a "residence life program coordinator" to live in residence and coordinate events and educational programming. . . . Somebody, and I wish I knew who, had an elaborate display outside the Math and Computer building yesterday, involving animals made from bottles, as well as a sign referring cryptically to something that happened ten years ago. . . .