Tag Archives: children

Talking QS for Kids with Sesame Workshop!

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Sesame Street has been teaching kids to count since 1969. It was a big part of my childhood and I always loved it. After all, children get measured a lot: weighed, evaluated, tested. If we adults sometimes wonder how the powerful techniques of quantification can be used for our own benefit, rather than merely serving to strengthen control by others, imagine what it looks like to a kid still learning the basic language of numbers.

Can QS be useful for kids? When we learned that Jennifer Kotler and June Lee, two excellent researchers from Sesame Workshop were planning to be with us in Amsterdam in May at the QS Europe conference, we decided to do a short interview and ask them our question outright.

What is your interest in Quantified Self for young kids?

Jennifer Kotler: What I think is really interesting about the QS movement is that you see data as both an input and an output. Originally I had been thinking about measuring behavior, so we could better understand children’s lives. How do kids use media? Who is around them? That’s akin to ethnographic studies. But when I listened to people talk about quantifying themselves, I realized that data is also a kind of content that informs the self. Kids like to know how they are doing and what they are learning, that feedback is connected to self-regulation. So we are now thinking of Quantified Self data as both an input and an output.

What’s the difference between the way typical media companies might research their viewers and what Sesame Workshop does with kids?

Jennifer Kotler: Our primary mission is to help all children reach their highest potential. We want to help them learn. So we use media as a tool to support child development. We don’t see our media as entertainment only.

When do kids start to care about numbers?

Jennifer Kotler: Even infants have some awareness of mathematical concepts but it is around the preschool age when children are taught about the meaning of numbers more formally. The more socially or emotionally meaningful numbers are in relation to individual children, the more they can learn.

What’s the most interesting research that involves young kids with data?

Jennifer Kotler: There are some small scale ethnographic studies, using a GoPro camera and interviews, but those happen with older children. As Sir Ken Robinson said, a three year old is not “half a six year old.” You can’t take experiences from older kids and just make it easier. You have to ask what is appropriate for kids of that age. We’re coming to the conference to learn about techniques we can use in our research, but also we are also coming in with an open mind and looking forward to absorbing it all!

The Sesame workshop creates media. So what if the results of your research is: kids should have minimal screen time? Could you handle that research result?

June Lee: The big goal of the research we do is not to get people to consume more media, but to improve the media we do make so that people learn more, engage more, and improve their lives.

We can’t wait to see June and Jennifer at our 2014 European Conference in Amsterdam. If you’re interested in combining QS practices with child development and education make sure you register today. We’re only one month away!

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Bill Schuller on Counting with My Kids

Our show&tell talks usually give you insight into new and different self-tracking projects from a first person perspective. What we rarely hear about is how a self-tracking practice affects those around you, your family and friends. In this wonderful Ignite talk from our 2013 Global Conference Bill Schuller explains how his tracking has impacted his kids and what he’s learned from their experiences.

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Vivienne Ming on Tracking Her Son's Diabetes

Vivienne Ming is an accomplished neuroscientist and entrepreneur. When she’s not conducting research or working on new ideas she’s busy taking care of her son Felix. Two years ago Felix was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Vivienne and her partner tackled his diagnosis head on and started tracking everything they could. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, Vivienne explains what they’re learning together.

We’ll be posting videos from our 2013 Global Conference during the next few months. If you’d like see talks like this in person we invite you to join us in Amsterdam for our 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference on May 10 and 11th.

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Conference Preview: Bill Schuller on Self-Tracking with Children

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How will children respond to a world where personal data is ubiquitous? Bill Schuller is starting to find out with his two young children and will be sharing his story at the upcoming 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference.

BillSchullerBill started tracking his exercise and weight in 2010. His preschool-aged son, listening to his father talk about his daily metrics at the dinner table, began to imitate Bill’s tracking behavior, regularly stepping on the scale, not to watch his weight, but to “just check my numbers.” Bill then designed tracking games for him and his son. One of them involved putting things away in the house while tracking steps and gaining “clean-up points.”

This fun talk will feature more stories on the creative ways Bill and his children are playing with self-tracking. As a preview, we have a version of the talk that he gave in San Diego in March 2012. Watch the video and then find out at the conference what further data adventures Bill has had with his kids in the last year and a half.

The Quantified Self Global Conference will be held in San Francisco on October 10th and 11th. Registration is now open. As with all of our conferences, our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!

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Yasmin Lucero on Baby Tracking

As you’ve probably read here before, our Quantified Self Conferences are special events. We spend a lot of time hand crafting the program to make sure we enable the human-to-human connections that we value and love. At our last two Global Quantified Self Conferences hosted in the bay area we’ve had the opportunity to bring people together in the evening to socialize and hack on projects together. (A big thank you goes to Noisebridge and HealthTap for making that happen.)

At our last social event held at the 2012 conference in Palo Alto I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to hear something amazing. I saw a group of people huddled around a laptop exchanging questions and answers. Obviously they were talking about a new gadget or tool and the API that was allowing them to create an awesome visualization. To my surprise and delight, everyone was looking at graphs of a child’s feeding times, sleep schedule, and weight. I had never seen someone talk about this kind of tracking in such great detail and with such enthusiasm. Fascination quickly turned to excitement as I realized that this experience, tracking and learning about your child, should be shared with the conference attendees.

Yasmin Lucero, a mother, statistician, and wonderful speaker, thankfully listened to my pleas and presented her experience during our Lunchtime Ignite Talk session. I’m excited to share that with you here. She also gave a show&tell talk about what she learned from tracking her daughter at a QS Los Angeles Meetup. We’ve appended the slides from that talk below.  If you’re interested in how she made her graphs using R then make sure to check out her project page on RPuds.

If you’re engaging with this type of self-tracking we would love to have you join us this year for our 2013 Global Conference where we’ll have great talks, sessions, and discussions that cover the wide range of Quantified Self topics. Registration is now open so make sure to get your ticket today!

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