To examine these relationships, the project leaders conducted research at two elementary schools in southern California: Lugonia Elementary School in Redlands, and Inland Leaders Charter School in Yucaipa.
Pilot testing of spatial activities and assessments took place at Lugonia Elementary School during the spring of 2016. The purpose of that research was to fine tune the activities and assessments that would be used in the larger research study. A comparison-group study was conducted at Inland Leaders Charter School during the 2016-17 school year. The goal of this study was to gather data that could be used to explore relationships among spatial thinking skills, computational thinking abilities, and mathematical performance.
Two treatment classrooms in each K-5 grade at Inland Leaders Charter School implemented spatial thinking activities for approximately 30 minutes each day during the 2016-2017 school year.
Two control classrooms in each grade did not do the designated activities. The spatial activities included creating designs with manipulatives such as design blocks and tangrams, mapping classrooms and schoolyards, using a map to find treasures, and providing directions with coordinate systems. At the beginning and end of the school year, all students completed spatial and mathematics assessments. A spatial-computational thinking assessment was also piloted with K-2 students.