Friday, August 19, 2011

What's Your Number Sense?


A person's number gut, or Approximate Number System (ANS), specializes in the "ballpark" figure rather than an outright calculation. It's what lets us see which grocery line in a store is longer, or which part of the movie theater has fewer people. Animals have this ability as well, without any training from humans: a bird picks the branch with the greatest amount of berries or a baboon decides he's better off not fighting a gang of six. The ANS empowers us to decide the most efficient course to take in everyday situations and may impact our performance in school mathematics.

Panamath measures your ANS through a simple task.  You're repeatedly flashed two groups of dots -- one blue and one yellow.  After each flash, you're asked, "Which one had more?"  This enables Panamath to calculate how precise your ANS is.   [from the Panamath website]

Try taking the free online test to measure your own number sense.  You are repeatedly shown a slide with blue and yellow dots for a very short time.  You simply have to say whether there were more yellow or blue dots.  You'll get a correct or incorrect response before moving to the next screen, so you know how well you're doing.  It's a fun experiment and you will get results immediately upon completion of the 2-part trial.

There's a lot of research on the site and suggestions for teachers who might want to use the test with students.  The basic premise is that a person's ANS (Approximate Number System) predicts his success in mathematics.   What do you think?

Try the Panamath Test.

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