Research Update: OCEAN’s Work with Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative and Santa Ana Unified School District

Supported by the National Science Foundation, OCEAN partners with Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative (SAELI) and the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to co-design out-of-classroom playful learning environments that promote children’s STEM learning.

As part of this NSF supported project, called “Stimulating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in the City: Co-Designing with Latinx Families to Promote Informal STEM Learning, OCEAN and SAELI are designing playful installations in everyday community spaces (i.e., grocery stores, bus stops) to promote family engagement and STEM learning in children from 0 to 9 years old.

An extension of this work, “Fractions in the Schoolyard”, will focus on fraction learning in playful, schoolyard environments at Romero-Cruz Academy and Esqueda Elementary School in Santa Ana, CA. Both projects engage in monthly virtual co-design sessions with community members, including parents, local agencies, and teachers with mathematics and physical education backgrounds. 

With SAELI, we have conducted three co-design sessions with Spanish-speaking parents to learn about their community’s values and design playful STEM activities that build on those values to facilitate family interactions and early STEM learning. Meanwhile, “Fractions in the Schoolyard” builds upon previous work completed at El Sol Academy in Santa Ana, where OCEAN and the El Sol community co-designed “Fraction Ball”, a suite of fraction-based games for their reimagined basketball court. Next month, we will begin co-design sessions with teachers at Romero-Cruz and Esqueda schools to better align Fraction Ball games with teachers’ fraction lessons and begin the process of scaling up to other schools in SAUSD. 

We look forward to growing in our partnerships and bringing playful STEM learning to life in Orange County this winter and upcoming spring!

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