The concept of school MathLabs as described in this website is the brainchild of Arthur N. DiVito, Ph.D., a now retired Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC).
Professor DiVito holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). For over twelve years, beginning in 1987, Dr. DiVito served as the University Mathematics Adviser to IIT’s SMILE Program (Science and Mathematics Initiative for Learning Enhancement), a program funded by various sources for Chicago area K-12 teachers. The SMILE Program emphasized the so-called Phenomenological Approach to teaching and learning, whereby pedagogical methods derived from much of the very natural phenomena that mathematics and the sciences are meant to investigate. It was during his time at SMILE that Prof. DiVito first posited the threefold criteria for a valid MathLab as described in this site (cf., the Home Page of this site regarding the Q/R/V aspects of a MathLab). Although SMILE is no longer in operation, its standing website (which can be viewed at: http://mypages.iit.edu/~smile/) recently exceeded its millionth visitor!
During his tenure as a full time teacher, Dr. DiVito maintained a number of academic and union positions and titles, earned many awards for teaching, founded a number of teacher development programs, served as a consultant for schools and textbooks, was a Member of the Board of a school as well as a credit union, and was a frequent contributor (speaker, presenter, panelist) at a myriad of conferences, seminars, and workshops in the US and Europe.
Having retired from fulltime teaching, Dr. DiVito now seeks both to raise public awareness of certain problems facing contemporary education in the US, and to enhance the quality of mathematics teaching and learning worldwide. As regards the former, his TED talk given at TEDxIIT in March, 2011, On The Five Questions We Need to Answer to Fix American Education, can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncroiEy8LXk&feature=BFa&list=PL460F4E5F8E2F16D1&index=6.
As for the latter, his McGraw-Hill custom published textbook, Mathematics for Elementary Teachers: Content and Concepts, 2nd Edition, 2007 (ISBN-10: 0-07-339173-5) is presently out of print. His Youtube video channel can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/user/PointPlotsVideos?feature=watch. These videos feature his personally developed pedagogical software program, PointPlots, for the teaching and learning of mathematics (roughly grade 7 through single variable integral calculus) on sale (under $20) at www.PointPlots.com. Finally, this very MathLabsForSchools website is meant to encourage K-8 schools to provide the time, space, and resources required to adopt the practice of occasionally engaging in such meaningful, real-world collaborative student activities as described here. It is believed that such engagement would allow for a level of motivation and understanding that is almost unattainable, without considerable losses in the standard mathematics curriculum, in the normal classroom time and space presently available to elementary school students and teachers.