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From Abacus to Advanced Number Theory

Posted by Tiara Swinson on March 08, 2018

Teach your child advanced math now on the abacusI remember four years ago, I was in my Advanced Number Theory course at Johns Hopkins University. It was the second or third-to-last course required to complete my mathematics major. Just from those two sentences you could probably tell I was (and still am) a math geek. Math has always come natural to me, however, it wasn’t until the spring semester of 2014 that I realized why.

I had a knack for pattern recognition growing up, partly because my eyesight was very bad. I had to learn to discern patterns over details in order to interact with everyone and everything, which naturally extended to mathematics. Once I understood the patterns and relations of numbers and equations in math, the rest was a cakewalk.

After I graduated from Hopkins, I wanted to go into education. I kept thinking to myself, I wonder if there is a way to introduce pattern recognition at the elementary school level so that there can be a better understanding of math when kids enter high school and college. Fast forward a few years and I find myself teaching abacus math at Math Genie. It was during my second week teaching an abacus math class when I realized. Oh, my goodness they’ve figured it out! They’ve cracked the code on how to teach math so kids can understand it!


Every teacher at Math Genie is trained on the abacus. When I was trained, I had so much fun. I said I was a math geek, yet, Math Genie made it so that everyone who learns on the abacus has fun, including children and adults. I have taught parents how to use the abacus so they can work with their child at home. To see the joy in them match the joy in their children when they solved a problem would be enough to convince anyone how effective and inspiring Math Genie is. Math Genie takes on the current issue of teaching children so they understand and mixed it with an ancient technique to create one of the most powerful learning tools of today. Our success stories speak for themselves. Every day I see how these kids grow and can see how much brighter the future is now that they know the abacus.


Speaking of the future, it is good to know that abacus students understand advanced number theory better than most college students. Joseph H Silverman, professor of math at Brown University wrote a comprehensive textbook entitled A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory. In Chapter 1: “What is Number Theory?” he says “Number theory is the study of the set of positive whole numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, . . . , which are often called the set of natural numbers. We will especially want to study the relationships between different sorts of numbers.”

Number theory is the basis of every area of math. Math in turn is the basis of every science. Number theory is the foundation of algebra, geometry, calculus, and even probability and statistics. Without a solid understanding of number theory, it is impossible to advance in any of these areas of math. Abacus students are exposed to number theory at a very early age without even realizing. Math Genie captures that precious time when the child’s neurons are at a rapid fire and uses that time to teach them higher level learning in a way they understand and enjoy.


As an abacus student learns their numbers, they are learning modular arithmetic. Modular arithmetic is arithmetic with a count that resets to zero after a certain number. Modular arithmetic is sometimes called clock arithmetic. A clock resets to 0 after 24 hours, 60 minutes, or 60 seconds. When the student learns how to use buddies, what they are doing is resetting the rods of the abacus back to 0 and adding or subtracting the modular of a large number. It is actually quite instinctual and intuitive. 

The children love learning new buddies, combining buddies, and skipping the rod. Everything on the abacus is like a game for them. They get excited to show their parents and teachers how much they really understand how math works. This excitement does not fade as they grow older and the abilities they learn in Math Genie stick with them all the way through college and beyond.


I wish I had Math Genie as a kid. I see how quickly these children advance and learn abstract topics in no time at all. If I had this program growing up, I know I would have moved much faster and further in school. I also know that every child truly benefits from the abacus. There is even new research about how it affects adults and seniors and the positive impact it has on mental health and development. There really is no end to the wonders of the abacus.




Topics: Mental Math, Child Education, Abacus Math, Number Theory, Advanced Learning

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