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Number Sense

October 1, 2008

Kids with good “number sense” do better in math class.


Why math counts…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Everyone is born with an innate number sense – the ability to glance at a group of objects and quickly estimate how many there are. Psychologist Justin Halberda of Johns Hopkins University wanted to see if this number sense was connected to how well kids did in math. So he and his colleagues tested a group of 14-year-olds for their ability to guess the numbers of colored dots flashed on a computer screen.

JUSTIN HALBERDA (Johns Hopkins):
And then we looked at how that accuracy correlated with their performance in school mathematics for every year they had been tested all the way back kindergarten. And what we found in fact is that it does predict how well you do in school mathematics.

The researchers are now studying whether this can be used to identify kids with learning disabilities and if early intervention might help. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.