The childhood dread around math homework is so ubiquitous it’s become a cliche. It’s a cliche based in truth: ask any math teacher around the world and I’m sure they’d all tell you that a great many students find it hard to engage in math lessons.
Thankfully, there is a solution. Now that technology is an unavoidable part of our lives, the development of that technology has become an important part of our education. Coding and programming is now firmly a part of school systems around the world, and while it may seem like something flashy and new to parents, it’s actually just math in disguise.
By Hannah Ross
Coding Is Math
To begin with, I’d like to emphasize that these are not distinct fields, they’re one and the same. At the basic level, any strong line of code relies on algorithmic and computational thinking, concepts that have their foundation in math. The benefit of this close connection is that neither one needs to come before the other. You don’t need to be a math expert to begin coding, in fact, even professional programmers have entered the field with little more than a high-school level of math knowledge. That means kids can be introduced to the fun, practical, and visual elements of code straight away, the stuff that engages them to learn more math.
Coding Makes Math Practical
One of the reasons kids, especially at a young age, find it hard to engage in learning is a lack of practical applications. It’s why so many elementary lessons are taught with hand-on activities, physical cues, and visualization, to give real-world practicality to theoretical concepts. This is particularly applicable to math, and coding is a great way of making this theoretical subject practical.
By producing code for simple programs or automated machines kids are not only seeing the immediate results of their math work, they’re also learning a real-world skill. Teaching kids that web and app development is something they could aspire to is a great way to get them engaged in learning the basic maths and coding skills from a young age.
Teaching Math Through Games
It’s no secret kids love games — really we all do, in one way or another — so what better way to inspire a love of math than by using it to make games? Game design is full of mathematical concepts, all of which are inherent in the coding process.
Pam Montessori, a tech writer at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting, tells us that “by introducing kids to game programming systems they are far more receptive to complicated mathematical concepts because learning them will enable the creation of more complex, more satisfying games.”
There’s even the idea that coding can ‘gamify’ math learning itself. Structuring learning elements in the style of a game, with points systems and rewards, is easy to do with coding and appears to have an effect on how kids learn. Though not everyone is a fan, this is certainly territory to explore.
Coding Makes Math Creative
Math can easily be seen as a dry, logical exercise in absolutes, not something that inspires a lot of creative thinking. In fact, for most of my education, I thought of math and creativity as direct opposites. It was only once I learned more about coding that I realized the creative possibilities of math.
By visualizing mathematical functions, coding can reveal the creative potential of functions and equations. Pattern making technology and even simple graph creators give visual reality to strings of numbers which brings out the fact that math can be creative and even artistic.
Visualizing Through Math
The creativity of coding also helps students visualize complex mathematical concepts. Topics as basic as long division are much easier to grasp if it is explained in visual representation, and coding helps students achieve that visualization themselves.
“The true key to inspiring maths is generating that eureka moment,” says Jim Slimson, a tech blogger at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk. “That moment after all the trial and error when the disparate elements come together and they just work. Coding is a fantstic mobilization of the eureka moment, because it results in the game working or the graph art blossoming.”
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About the author
Hannah Ross is a marketing professional and strategist at Luckyassignments.com and Gumessays.com. Hailing from New York, she enjoys reading and writing about topics in web development and programming. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, hunting, and mixed martial arts.