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Future Kids NYC Mind Lab
The Mind Lab Group was founded in 1994. Its activities are centered on the Mind Lab method, a unique approach for the development and training of thinking abilities and life skills through thinking games.
Mind Lab
The Method
  Educational FAQ
  1) About the Development of the Method

1.1) Who developed the system?
The system was first developed in Israel in the early 90s by Mr. Ehud Shachar and Mr. Dan Gendelman, senior chess players who both have Master degrees in education. Today Mind Lab?s research team includes experts from the fields of education, thinking games, humanities and social sciences, as well as computer sciences and engineering. The staff is constantly updating and improving the material in the learning program based on the extensive feedback received from the thousands of educational institutions with which the system is implemented.

1.2) Does the program have academic backing?
Yes. The learning program is founded upon strong theoretical foundations in the field of education and thinking, borrowing upon the theories of Dewey (who places the learner at the center of the learning experience), Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Perkins (Transfer) and Feuerstein (Instrumental Enrichment) and applying them practically. The learning program has won wide scale support and praise from researchers and academicians representing universities throughout the world, first and foremost Yale University in the US. The extensive series of studies performed by Yale demonstrates that the Mind Lab method boosts Math and Verbal scores as well as other important life skills.

1.3) What are the educational objectives of the program?
The Mind Lab method contributes to the personal development of each learner by helping them improve their cognitive, emotional and social skills. The real strength of the program is rooted in the ability to improve life skills in an enjoyable and experiential way which is the way that children and adults alike prefer. Plato said: ?Not out of obligation shall the children learn, but out of play.?

1.4) Is the learning program connected to formal education?
The Mind Lab program is exceptionally flexible and versatile. On the one hand, it is a stand alone and independent program accessible to each and every learner, regardless of age and prior knowledge. On the other hand, it touches upon the basis of human thinking and as such is connected to formal education ? to mathematics (numbers and counting, planes and spatial orientation, groups, probabilities, problems solving), communication (developing articulation skills, asking questions, expressiveness) and of course in other formal education subjects (interpersonal communication, cooperation and collaboration, violence prevention, emotional intelligence). The added value of the Mind Lab program is in its ability to transform the formal subjects into an enjoyable and playful experience that leaves a deep imprint in the children?s minds.

2) About the Learning Program

2.1) What subjects are taught?
Essentially the learning program deals with three branches of thinking skills: cognitive, social and emotional. The main subject areas are: problem solving, question asking, planning and execution, gathering and analyzing information, resource management, tactics and strategy, mathematical thinking, creative thinking, cooperation Vs. competition, teamwork, articulation skills, learning from mistakes, management of emotions.

2.2) What age groups can benefit from the program?
The learning program is divided into five Steps suitable for children aged 4-14. The advanced Steps can be even used to teach high-school students or adults.

2.3) How many lessons are there in the program?
In each of the five Steps there are 36 lessons. The 36 lessons are flexibly divided into 6 Courses, each of which focuses on a different thinking subject.

2.4) What is the duration of each lesson?
In the kindergarten program: 45 minutes.
In all the other programs: 60 minutes, that are in some locations extended to 90 minutes with additional practicing (using games, workbooks or computers).

2.5) How are the lessons structured?
A typical lesson features the following:
A) A group discussion about the central theme and central concepts of the lesson subject, or: a class activity that intuitively illustrates the concepts.
B) Explanation of the rules of the games, or: recap on the rules and a close examination of game principles and thinking concepts.
C) Playing in groups (usually in pairs or in foursomes). Sometimes there are two parts of the game playing session, one immediately after the rules and the other after an explanation of the relevant thinking concepts.
D) Learning relevant game strategies and discussing how they can be applied both in the game and in real life situations.
E) A reflective summary in which the children relate to their feelings and thoughts during the lesson.
About one quarter of the lessons are integrative, meaning they combine a number of previously learnt games. These lessons sometimes include pupil worksheets and computerized exercises. In all the programs, but especially in the kindergarten program, emphasis is placed upon activities which combine movement, drama and stories, according to Gardner's ideas.

2.6) How many games are taught during the course of the year?
Most of the games are taught over two lessons, so around 15 games are taught for each age group during the course of the year.

2.7) Do all the children play with the same game at a given lesson?
Yes. In most lessons all the children take part in the game being taught. A quarter of the lessons are integrative whereby the children play and rotate between a number of previously learnt games.

2.8) Are all the children involved in the game experience?
Absolutely. The entire learning program is centered around direct child participation and involvement.

2.9) How many consecutive years can a child learn the Mind Lab program?
The learning program is spiral and contains all in all 180 lessons such that each child can be part of the program for at least 5 consecutive years. In practical terms the child can benefit from the program for a longer period as the game experience confers benefits far beyond the framework of the formal structured lessons.

3) About the Mind Lab Center

3.1) How many games are there in the Mind Lab Center?
There are 360 game sets in a complete Mind Lab Center (36 games * 10 sets of each game). Some of the 36 types of physical games are used for teaching a number of different abstract games.

3.2) Who has developed the Mind Lab games?
Several of the games are classical and generic, while others are produced by some of the world?s leading thinking game companies: Gigamic, Hasbro, Fox Mind, Thinkfun and Mind Lab itself. The Mind Lab Group reviews scores of games each year and chooses those games most suited for integration within the learning program.

3.3) What other features are included in the Mind Lab Center?
The Mind Lab Center provides a comprehensive solution and contains:
A) Instructor books with 180 detailed lesson plans.
B) Student books with many additional exercises.
C) A computerized training course for teachers.
D) A beautiful practicing software for students.
E) Learning accessories, posters, roll-ups etc.
F) Marketing, Training and Operational Know-How.
G) And of-course extensive training and on-going support.

3.4) Are updates and upgrades made in the Mind Lab?
Mind Lab updates all its learning programs yearly: adds new games and lessons to the curriculum, upgrades the computerized elements, on-line services and of-course supports the exisiting centers with additional training.

3.5) Who actually presents the lessons?
In principle, the local educational staff is in charge of teaching the program. The Mind Lab team will visit each center to help the local staff. Of-course, all the required pedagogic tools for the successful imparting of Mind Lab are provided ? a training course for the teachers, detailed professional books and ongoing support.

3.6) Can the Mind Lab Center be operated apart from the standard ?lessons??
The Mind Lab offers a wide range of activities. First and foremost ? structured lessons. In addition it enables teachers to teach smaller groups and to answer the special needs of both gifted children and special education children. The Mind Lab can be used to run local Mind Game Olympic tournaments, and children & parent evenings (as part of school activities or after school activities).

3.7) What is the best way to present Mind Lab to the parents and the children?
As far as the children are concerned, Mind Lab is a marvelous experience, which they refer to as a ?game playing lesson? since first and foremost they play games. The parents and educational staff refer to it as a ?thinking lesson? ? admittedly the children do play games for about half of the lesson but all are well aware of the huge educational value embodied within the game experience. We can therefore compare the learning program to a tasty candy (for the children) with high nutritional value (for the parents and teaching staff).
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