Simple Five-Minute Computer Game Appears To Be Enhancing Children’s Math Skills

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald June 20, 02:50 am

Not all people are gifted with impressive mathematical skills. But a new study from Johns Hopkins University found that a simple five-minute computer game can make children perform better at math.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University said that "humans and animals are born with an intuitive sense of quantities," which means they can tell which option has the highest number of contents. Experts labeled the intuition about numbers as the "approximate number system."

Jinjing "Jenny" Wang, a graduate student from the Krieger School of Arts and Science's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said a person's math skills are "not static." They believe that math ability will not remain as it is for the rest of a person's life, making the skills changeable.

Computer Game Connects Imprecision And Exactitude

The report acknowledged that the imprecision of the approximate number system is a far cry from mathematics, which operates under exactitude. The researchers, however, believe that these abilities are connected and they aim to find out how they are linked by using the five-minute computer game.

For the computer game, researchers used 40 five-year-olds and made them tell which of the blue and yellow dots flashing on a laptop screen has the highest number. The children were asked to pick without counting, relying on their approximation abilities only.

Some of the kids have tests that started off easy and then gradually became hard. Others began with the hard samples, while a third group received a combination of hard and easy questions.

How Dots Quiz Makes Kids Good At Math Exam

After the computer game, the children were given a vocabulary quiz and a math quiz. Their vocabulary stayed the same, but those who got progressively harder dot tests scored an average of about 80 percent correct answers on the math quiz.

Meanwhile, children who got the harder dot questions first only got 60 percent of the math questions right. Kids who got a mix of easy and hard dot tests scored around 70 percent in the math exam. Lisa Feigenson, a professor of psychological and brain sciences, said the recent findings asks whether this type of quick improvement is temporary and whether it improves all kinds of math skills, the report added.

Children who love and excel at math can benefit from it when they enter the workforce. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a U.S. Department of Labor database, found 14 high-paying job positions for people with excellent math skills. This includes accountants, chemists, aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, marine architects, economists, astronomers, operations research analysts, actuaries, mathematical science teachers, physicists, statisticians and mathematicians.

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