New Study Finds First-Graders’ Math Knowledge Increases with PBS KIDS’ ODD SQUAD

Research shows that content from the PBS KIDS series "ODD SQUAD" helps children from low-income families boost their knowledge of numbers and operations, as well as algebraic thinking. 

WestEd researchers worked with four first-grade teachers and followed 83 first-graders and their families in school and home settings over four weeks. As part of the intervention, students created ODD SQUAD team badges and were invited to enter the narrative world of the show and act out roles, working as a team to solve math problems. At home, parents were encouraged to watch an ODD SQUAD episode with their child, then discuss it and do an activity together about the math content in the episode. 

Key findings include:

  • Students were very motivated and worked hard to solve the math problems.
  • Over the course of the ODD SQUAD intervention, students’ overall knowledge of algebraic thinking, and numbers and operations, increased significantly. Average assessment scores increased from 42.8 prior to the intervention to 48.7 afterwards.
  • In sub-categories of mathematical knowledge, students showed significant and positive changes in the following domains:
  • Skip counting: assessment scores rose from 10.92 to 13.61 
  • Pattern recognition: assessment scores rose from 9.49 to 10.12 
  • Simple addition and subtraction: assessment scores rose from 18.72 to 20.95

“The study results suggest that ODD SQUAD resources from PBS KIDS and the Ready To Learn initiative are supporting mathematics learning in the classroom and at home,” said Betsy McCarthy, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate of the STEM Program at WestEd and the study’s principal researcher. 

Parents and teachers both mentioned that, by inviting the first-graders to help solve “cases” that involved using math, the materials boosted children’s interest in math and in solving the problems. 

“[They were] highly, highly engaged…The number lines were good. The videos were fantastic. We still watch ODD SQUAD,” said one first-grade teacher.

ODD SQUAD is created by Tim McKeon (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Adventure Time, The Electric Company) and Adam Peltzman (The Electric Company, The Backyardigans, Wallykazam!) and produced by The Fred Rogers Company and Sinking Ship Entertainment. As a centerpiece of the Ready To Learn Initiative, ODD SQUAD has introduced millions of American children to math concepts and practices such as critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. Last year, the series reached 10.6 million children.

For more information on the WestEd Research visit their webpage at: https://www.wested.org/resources/odd-squad-math-pbs/.

 

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