Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Doing the Numbers - How Estimation Becomes Automatic

The scan below shows the difference between adults and kids making judgments about numerical distance. Kids (average age 10) need to think through mathematical differences more than adults - who have more parietal activation, or an internal representation for number size.

Estimation is having a true sense of number of quantity, and children and folks with dyscalculia may really struggle with this.

Estimation gets better with practice - and with hands-on materials (unifix cubes, coins, marbles, etc.) and practical applications with relative quantities, weights, and measurements. What we're doing is give students a physical representation of number that they later can "know" with automaticity. Estimation is a vital mathematical skill for most real world applications and mathematical planning.

Numerical Estimation and fMRI - Adults vs. Children
Estimation Strategies for Teachers
Estimation Topics at Math Forum

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