Does Your Power of Estimation Make Number Sense

Panamath On-Line Test Can Also Allow Students to Recognize the Importance of Number Sense

Quickly now! Can you estimate on sight how many pieces of pasta spring forth from your pasta bag? What is your number sense? Find out and contribute to a national study. Your number sense is your power of estimation of how much of something you see.

The national discussion about math education often includes mention of something called “number sense,” an intuitive skill that supports not only our understanding of mathematical concepts, but our overall survival (or success, these days) in the world. According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, understanding numbers and the relationships between them is essential to successful math learning – in order to understand the role of each operation and to know when we’ve arrived at a reasonable answer, we must have a foundational understanding of numbers themselves.

Wondering what your number sense is like? Try out Panamath‘s free online test! Panamath measures number sense in addition to something called approximate number system (ANS) aptitude – essentially, it tests how good you are at identifying amounts of things without actually counting them. Made available to the public through a grant from the National Science Foundation, Panamath’s test is an interesting experiment in numbers.

Made up of a series of quick-flashing screens of blue and yellow dots, the test asks participants to determine whether there are more blue dots or more yellow dots on each screen. Each screen flashes for just under a second and is followed by a second screen where participants press a button (either b for blue or y for yellow) to give their answer. Some screens are easy to read, while others are much more difficult. At the end of the test, results are given and scores are compared to research-based benchmarks. Designed to give feedback both to test-takers and researchers, Panamath will give you a rough estimate of what your own personal number sense is like, and your scores will help to provide researchers with valuable information about number sense, math skill development, and success in mathematics.

While Panamath itself probably won’t help develop your number sense, it will help users to get a better idea of what their own number sense is like. Additionally, Panamath can be used to help students learn about number sense, and can help them to begin paying more attention to their own recognition and understanding of numbers and amounts in all aspects of their lives.

[Photo credit: (cc) Carl Milner]

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