Featured Exploration

Warm Up:

I have some candy and you have some candy.  I give you one of my candies.  You now have twice as much as me.  You give me one candy back.  We now have the same amount.

How many candies did we both start with?

Main Event

What do you think is the next number in the sequence below?

10^3, 10^9, 10^{27}, 10^2

Who Can Do Mathematics?

On the surface, it may seem that mathematics is all about moving around symbols, making calculations, and drawing complicated graphs based on what a teacher told you.  Math is just something you either get or you don’t.  Either you’re a “math person” or you’re not.

Truth is, math is not an elite subject that can be mastered only by someone who is a genius.  This kind of negative attitude can hold people back.  Saying, “I’m not good at math and so I never will be” is a dangerous thing that can make us less motivated.  In fact, you probably are quite good at math but haven’t had the right opportunity to prove your abilities.  Besides, the belief that either you’re good at math or you’re not good at math is simply not true.

Research shows that effort, not natural ability, is the most important factor in getting good at anything, including math.

IQ stands for “intelligence quotient” and is a score based on several tests designed to “assess human intelligence”.  If you get a high IQ score, you might be fooled into thinking you’re smarter, and better, than everybody else.  Likewise if you get a lower IQ score, you might be lead to believe that you’re dumb, and that’s just the way things are going to be.

Here’s the fascinating part: studies have shown that we can increase our own IQ scores through proper training.  Intelligence is not something we’re born with or we’re not.  Intelligence is about how the neurons in our brains are connected, and it’s possible to grow and develop these connections by studying hard and studying right.

Intelligence is “malleable”, meaning it can be changed.  So if you think that you have to be intelligent to be good at math, then guess what?  Since intelligence can be changed, so can your abilities at math.

I encourage motivated students and parents to check out the following books for more information on this topic:

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count