What Fireflies And Test Scores Have In Common



There is nothing more magical than standing in a darkened field when the fireflies come out. For me, the yellow flashes of the fireflies are a sign that summer has finally arrived.

Unfortunately, the firefly population appears to have declined in recent years. Although many scientists are attempting to identify the specific reason for the decline, right now they can only speculate that it involves the effects of light pollution and human encroachment on breeding grounds.

I believe the decline of fireflies in the world is a tragedy. Watching them in the night sky is a magical experience! You cannot help but smile when they come out. If fireflies were to disappear, the world would be a little bit less wonderful.

Like the declining firefly population, American test scores are also in decline relative to other countries. The Program for International Student Assessment, an organization that compares student test scores across the world, announced the results of their latest assessments last December. Their report showed that in science and reading, US students were average at best. However, our math test scores had dropped below average.

The decline in student math scores should be concerning, particularly as the world transforms from an industry-based economy to an information-based economy. If nothing happens to reverse this trend, the US may lose its place as the world’s dominant economic power.

Fortunately, it is not too late to stop the sliding American math scores. It turns out that similar steps can also help to prevent the loss of fireflies. We would need to quickly implement the following solutions:

  • Turn Off The Distractions – Scientists speculate that humans are disrupting the mating habits of fireflies by filling up the night with too many lights. This light pollution prevents the flies from finding each other. Students also face many distractions that are preventing them from learning, including video games and television. Saving fireflies and student test scores both involve removing the distractions and allowing them to focus on what’s important.
  • Provide a Proper Environment – Scientists also note that fireflies may be dying because humans continue to sabotage their habitats. In efforts to beautify, we tend to remove natural “litter,” like the rotting logs and tree stumps where firefly larvae would otherwise grow and flourish. Similarly, students need a proper environment before learning can occur.  This environment includes the right balance of structured learning and freedom to explore on their own.

To save fireflies, we just need to shut off the lights and leave their environment in place. But when it comes to students, eliminating distractions and providing the right environment can be more difficult – especially when student leave school for the summer.

This is where Brain Chase can help. At Brain Chase, we have developed a summer program that shapes otherwise-distracting influences such as movies and video games into an integrated, engaging learning environment. For example, over the six-week Summer Challenge, participants unlock 12 webisodes that follow the exploits of Mae Merriweather and her friends and conceal the clues to the global treasure hunt. But these rewards are only unlocked after students complete their academic assignments. And through our student dashboard and partnerships with the Khan Academy and myOn, we combine the structure necessary to keep students on track with the academic freedom that helps students flourish academically.

Summer is the best time to see fireflies. It is also a time for students to hone their skills and prepare for school in the fall. Brain Chase can help. For more information, please subscribe to our summer learning newsletter here.