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When Taos-based Imagine Education received a Next Generation Learning Challenge Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates and William and Flora Hewlett foundations this summer, the award was not just a triumph for middle-school students struggling to learn math.
It also marked an achievement for the New Mexico programs that grow the state’s economy by helping small New Mexico businesses.
Imagine Education’s founders credit economic development initiatives with helping them win the grant, one of 19 awarded nationwide for innovations in teaching literacy and mathematics. The grant will allow Imagine Education to pilot its educational math game, Ko’s Journey, in 10 middle schools nationwide.
A business built on needs
In 2002 when Imagine Education co-founder Scott Laidlaw began teaching at Roots and Wings Charter School in Questa, students were testing in the 28th percentile for math. Laidlaw, a former Appalachian State University professor, joined other teachers in experimenting with story-based curriculum.
To teach ratios, handmade boats were placed on an oversized map that modeled the spice trade of the early 1600s. “The kids loved it and wanted more,” Laidlaw said. “When test scores doubled, we knew we were on to something.”
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