The 5th Dimension is a specially designed activity system that mixes play and education in an environment that brings learners of different ages and abilities together to solve problems. 

 

    The 5th Dimension model grew out of the combined efforts of researchers, faculty members and students associated with the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at UC San Diego. 

 

    Michael Cole, Professor and 5thD Site Director, UC San Diego:

    The evidence is simply overwhelming that American children spend less time engaged in academic pursuits than the children of any other industrialized country.  By many many many days a year, hundreds of hours a year.  Our citizens seem perfectly content with that situation on the one hand, and on the other hand, we worry a whole lot about our kids learning about new technologies, gaining good kinds of knowledge that they really need to have.  And we have a lot of kids who are alienated from school.  We also have right now, 67% of the mothers in the United States, work, and they're not home in the afternoon.  And there has to be some place for the kids to be that's safe, and hopefully that could promote things like their education, their connection to new technologies, their ability to work with other people, their connection to colleges and university as potential goals that they may have for themselves in life. 

 

    5th Dimension after school clubs exist in a variety of contexts across the US, in Europe, and in Mexico  The sites combine people from a university or college, people from a community institution who open their doors to children in the afternoons, and the resources and interests of the parents and children of a community, creating the distinctive micro-culture that is a 5th Dimension adaptation. Wherever the site is located, it is a place for cross-generational teaching and learning, joint problem solving with hi and low tech activities, pro-social interaction, and activity that blurs the distinction between play and education.  [footage from a variety of sites]

 
   
It satisfies a real need in our communities for more facilities for children after school.  Currently, right at this historic moment in the United States, we have massive reform of the welfare system, we have more and more parents both of whom are working, and we have inadequate care facilities for our children during the afterschool hours.  So here is a way in which we can put a lot of eggs into one basket.  And there's alot of this sort of putting a lot of eggs in one basket sort of strategy involved in all this.  We start with institutions which are already caring for children afterschool.  So we don't start de novo.  We build on top of that an enrichment program which provides for more kids to participate, and provides for a higher quality of activity for the kids after school  So it solves a lot of problems all at once.  And of course, it allows us to give the kids an experience of learning that is fun.