“When will I ever use this in real life?” It is a common question that kids ask and some adults wonder in an attempt to debate their way out of algebra homework. But some recent news stories centering around, of all things, algebra are proving that there may indeed be profound reasons to keep learning this math.
Algebra and Computer Coding in Schools
For sixth graders in Massachusetts, algebra is another name for computer programming class. An innovative curriculum called Bootstrap is surprising educators by teaching algebra functions through the real life application of computer coding instead of traditional “abstract problem solving,” reports the Boston Globe.
In the United States as well as Canada, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Bootstrap has made its way into the classroom as a new form of instruction that helps students apply algebra concepts while bringing them up to date on “what’s basically 21st century literacy.”
Founded by former Microsoft coder Emmanuel Schanzer, Bootstrap uses a unique computer language developed by Matthias Felleisen, a computer science professor at Northeastern. And heavyweight industry leaders including Apple, Cisco and Facebook have all financially backed Bootstrap. Other leaders like Google formed a lobbying group to pressure for more similar programs and requirements that public schools teach computer science courses to all students.
Learning from an Algebra App
In another combination of programming and algebra training, computer scientist Zoran Popovic is designing games to teach children. Popovic first engineered an online game which challenged “players to create intricate protein patterns by bending and rearranging amino acids,” says Wired.com.
Popvic is now working on a new app to introduce algebraic equations and concepts through a game. The app starts out using animal-faced cards and eventually builds to using numbers and computational signs. The app is also responsive to each child’s learning curve, providing additional challenges for more gradual learners. In a recent trial of DragonBox Adaptive, as it is being called, 93 percent of the K-12 students who experimented with the app were able to master concepts successfully in about 90 minutes of play.
States Vote to Cut Algebra
In spite of these important advances in applying algebra in the schools and teaching it through apps, some politicians are still rethinking their states’ math requirements. Texas recently voted to consider dropping algebra II as a standard for graduating high school students. While the new standard is intended to free student up for more career and vocational training rather than focusing solely on college prep, it has drawn many critics who point out that college’s require students to pass mathematics tests in order to enroll in math classes and these involve an understanding of algebra II concepts. In order to be equipped for college, students will need to enroll in advanced classes or take catch-up courses at their colleges.
All of this news about algebra might have some students searching for TakeLessons algebra tutors to help them learn a subject that seems pretty useful after all.
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