USC Rossier Partners with Mattel to Teach Science and Math with Hot Wheels Toys


USC Rossier School of Education researchers are developing an engaging, free curriculum that uses Hot Wheels toys to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), with support from the Mattel Children’s Foundation.

The partnership includes several USC Rossier faculty members who specialize in STEM curriculum, including Frederick Freking, Angela “Laila” Hasan, Julie Marsh, Morgan Polikoff, and Gale Sinatra.

The new curriculum will be playtested in USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative’s Kinder to College Saturday Academy, and a revised version will be piloted within USC’s Family of Schools in the fall.

The five USC Rossier faculty members bring expertise in pedagogy, parent engagement, curricular reform, Common Core standards, assessments, and the cognitive and motivational processes that lead to successful learning in science and math.

Freking prepared future science teachers for more than a decade in the UCLA Science Teacher Education Program. His recent research projects focus on the impact of inquiry-based instruction, and providing math and science teachers with resources and guidance through the development of a STEM lab.

Hasan is the former director of the UCLA Parent Curriculum Project, where she developed programs to engage parents and students in mathematics. Her recent research focuses on family, teacher and student engagement in the experiential learning of mathematics in public spaces.

Marsh specializes in research on policy implementation, education reform, and accountability.  She has examined math and science curricular reforms, and is studying how to build teacher capacity to use data through coaching and data teams.

Polikoff focuses on K-12 education policy; Common Core standards; assessment policy; alignment among instruction, standards and assessments; and the measurement of classroom instruction. His work has documented the design and effects of standards-based reform policies, and methodological pieces pertaining to assessment and the measurement of classroom instruction.

Sinatra’s research focuses on the cognitive and motivational processes that lead to successful learning in science, particularly controversial topics like evolution and climate change. She developed a model of conceptual change learning to describe how individuals change their thinking about scientific topics.