Teaching Mathematics and Science in the Home (page 2 of 2)

Teaching Mathematics and Science in the Home (page 2 of 2)

Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik

Digi-Comp I Toy Computer, about 1965

In the mid-1960s, most children had never seen an electronic computer. But they knew computers were associated with space flight. The physicist William H. Duering and two of his associates in Montclair, New Jersey, devised this toy, the Digi-Comp, and applied for a patent in 1963. By the time they received the patent in 1966, over 100,000 Digi-Comps had sold, both as toys and for science fair projects. According to the box, the toy could add, subtract, multiply, and count down for a space launch.

Visible Man, Visible Woman, and Human Brain Kit, about 1960

Other new toys taught children about anatomy. The early success of the Soviet space program led toy designer Marcel Jovine of New Jersey to envision models of the human body that "would teach something to children who put them together." He persuaded Renwal Products, Inc., to make the "Visible Man," a set of plastic pieces representing body parts.

A child assembled the pieces, painted veins and arteries, and enclosed the whole in a clear plastic skin. The Visible Man first sold in 1959 and was very successful. Jovine went on to design similar kits, including the Visible Woman. Earlier models had been made from paper, and those designed for children often omitted reproductive organs. Jovine and others also made models of specific organs. At the front of the photograph is the "Human Brain Kit" made by Educational Products, Inc., of Oak Lawn, Illinois.

New Math Addition Flash Cards, about 1966

Flash cards have been used to teach basic arithmetic from at least the early twentieth century. Amid the educational reforms of the 1950s and 1960s, the Long Island City firm of Ed-u-Card developed a new form of flash card in which problems to be solved were written horizontally. A blank box represented the unknown in the equation. This emphasis on equations reflected the contemporary desire to make elementary mathematics more like that taught at a more advanced level.