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NMSU College of Education professors showcase research in Washington, D.C.

A trip by two New Mexico State University College of Education professors proved to be a worthwhile experience that allowed them to showcase their research to lawmakers and connect with New Mexico legislators.

New Mexico State University College of Education professors Karin Wiburg, center, and Karen Trujillo, right, pose with Felice Levine, director of the American Educational Research Association, in Washington, D.C., April 29. (Courtesy photo)

This graph, provided by Karen Trujillo and Karin Wiburg, shows the comparison between one group of students who used Math Snacks, and another group with a delayed introduction to Math Snacks. (Courtesy photo)

Karin Wiburg, co-director of the NMSU College of Education?s STEM Research & Partnerships, and Karen Trujillo, director of K-12 outreach for the College of Education?s Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, traveled to Washington, D.C., April 29 to participate in a legislative exhibition hosted by supporters of National Science Foundation funding, including large universities such as Princeton, Ohio State and the University of California.

NMSU?s Math Snacks project was selected by the American Educational Research Association as the National Science Foundation project they wanted to highlight, Wiburg said.

?It was great to see New Mexico State University among the universities represented at this showcase conference held in the House building,? said Wiburg, who is also a distinguished faculty in Curriculum and Instruction.

Wiburg and Trujillo highlighted the results from a recent study where 49 teachers and 741 fifth graders used Math Snacks games and activities. The classrooms were randomly divided into two groups and tested. During the first five weeks of the study, which took place late last year, teachers in group A used four Math Snacks lessons and group B did not. When both groups were tested, group A showed significant gains in math understanding. During the second five weeks, teachers in group B used the same lessons. When all students were tested again, they also showed significant growth in math understanding. Both the teachers and students enjoyed the games and the learning, Trujillo said.

?The goal of developing math games is to ensure that they work to increase students? mathematics skills, and in this study we found that Math Snacks games do. We are very excited about sharing the results, and we hope to continue development in the future. Dr. Barbara Chamberlin and her development team in the (NMSU) Learning Games Lab are amazing,? Trujillo said.

The Math Snacks project is a collaboration between the College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, as well as NMSU?s Media Productions Department. Ted Stanford from the Department of Mathematical Sciences also served as a co-principal investigator and ?was essential to making sure the mathematics was correct and engaging at the same time,? Wiburg said.

During their time in Washington, D.C., Trujillo and Wiburg met with staff members from the offices of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

?We introduced each of them to the Math Snacks project and the development and research efforts taking place at NMSU,? Trujillo said. ?We encouraged all of them to continue to support STEM education by funding NSF research and development.?

AERA is a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding, which annually invites scientists with National Science Foundation funding to represent their association at the exhibition.

For more information about Math Snacks, visit www.mathsnacks.org.