How Coding Can Improve Math Performance

Last Updated: February 1, 2018 9:00 am
How Coding Can Improve Math Performance

The conventional belief has always been that kids interested in coding should develop strong math skills. However, it turns out the reverse may also be true: coding can help children build math skills and make learning math more engaging and fun.

In the three years that Casita Center, a magnet elementary school in Southern California, has been teaching coding with Tynker, they’ve seen considerable improvements in their students’ math scores, outperforming virtually all California schools with similar demographics. Jenny Anderson, the school’s STEM specialist,  believes this improvement is due to the effectiveness of their CS program. When kids learn to code, they develop key skills like problem solving and practice algorithmic and computational thinking – and when they learn to code with Tynker, they have fun at the same time, so they’re more likely to stay engaged with the material. These broad skill sets and ways of breaking down and analyzing problems translate across the curriculum and are particularly helpful when it comes to math.

Whether kids are learning to code at school or at home, you may just see an impact on their overall academic performance! Here are a few ways that coding helps kids learn math:

Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts

Grasping abstract math concepts can be a challenge to many kids and put them off the subject entirely. Parents, teachers, and technology specialists are using Tynker to help children visualize abstract concepts with math and coding.

“One of the most common cross curricular benefits of computer programming is that the kids have an easier time learning math skills,” says Michelle Lagos, a computer science teacher who uses Tynker in elementary classes at the American School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “When they have to work on long division, it is easier for them to visualize the numbers now instead of counting with their fingers. They visualize the equation and think of the best way to solve it.” Lagos reports that she has “seen kids in many grades improve their math skills” by using Tynker to learn coding.

Jesse Thorstad, Technology Coordinator for the Fergus Falls Public Schools district in Minnesota, has had a similar experience. “Tynker provides kids with a concrete example of the power of decimal places,” he says. “When studying decimals in math, the students experience a heartwarming ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when they see how moving a decimal coding block can affect the objects on the screen tenfold.”

Kids explore the real-world applications of math concepts

Repairing spaceships or saving puppies with Tynker is a great way for a child to see concrete applications of math for computer programming strategies. Tynker parent Sri Ramakrishnan points out that kids develop stronger math skills when applying concepts in a real-world context: “The computational thinking involved in computer programming involves logic, organizing and analyzing data, and breaking a problem into smaller and more manageable parts. Much of this is also required when solving math problems!”

Math can be used in creative coding projects

Kids who use Tynker see how math coding is inherently creative. Here is an example of math art that kids can create with Tynker:

10-year-old Jacob Myers, a big math buff who regularly competes in math contests, uses Tynker to make math art with spirals and triangles. Kids can also complete activities like Pattern Maker and Spin Draw to learn how to create art with coding and math!

Coding teaches problem-solving skills

Coding is a real-world way to teach mathematical thinking. When students create or debug a program, they practice solving problems. Math teachers find that Tynker’s beginning lessons are a great way to teach pattern identification as well. Teachers can assign activities like Multiplication Escape or Analog Clock and encourage students to find solutions with math.

How is Coding Used in Math?

Math and coding are like best friends! They team up to make math super easy and powerful. In coding, we use special computer languages such as Python or MATLAB to work on math problems. It’s like having a math wizard in your computer. We can use coding for math calculations, which means it helps us solve math puzzles and do math homework quickly. It’s like having a calculator on steroids!

Coding also helps us play with math symbols, such as x and +. This is important because it allows us to solve tricky equations and understand how things in math fit together. We use a special tool called SymPy to work with math symbols in coding. Additionally, coding helps us with data analysis in math. This means we can look at lots of numbers, like in surveys or experiments, and find out what those numbers mean. It’s like having a detective for math patterns!

But math and coding don’t stop there. They work together to create models and simulations for things like predicting disease outbreaks or understanding how rockets fly. It’s like building a virtual math world where we can experiment and learn how things work. So, math and coding are like a dynamic duo, helping us solve math mysteries, draw math pictures, and explore the fascinating world of numbers and shapes.

What is Coding in Math for Kids?

Coding in math for kids is a fun and creative way to use computer programming to explore mathematical concepts and solve math problems. It involves using special computer languages, often designed for children, to write code that can perform math-related tasks. Here are some ways coding can be used in math for kids:

1. Math Games: Kids can create their own math games using coding. For example, they can code a game that quizzes them on addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, making learning math more enjoyable.

2. Math Visualizations: Coding allows kids to create colorful and interactive visualizations of math concepts. They can build graphs, charts, and geometric shapes to better understand math ideas.

3. Math Puzzles and Challenges: Kids can code programs to generate math puzzles and challenges. For instance, they can create a program that generates random math problems for them to solve.

5. Math Simulations: Coding can be used to simulate real-world math scenarios. For example, kids can create a program that simulates the growth of a population or the trajectory of a projectile.

6. Math Art: Coding can be a creative tool for making math-based art. Kids can write code to create symmetrical patterns, fractals, and other artistic representations of mathematical concepts.

7. Educational Tools: There are coding platforms and software specifically designed for math education. These tools provide interactive math lessons and exercises that make learning math more engaging and interactive.

8. Robotics and Math: In robotics programs for kids, coding is used to program robots to perform math-related tasks. This hands-on approach can make math more tangible and exciting.

Coding in math for kids is not just about solving equations; it’s about making math come to life through programming. It encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity while reinforcing math skills in a way that’s enjoyable and engaging for young learners.

What is an example of math in coding? 

An example of math in coding is writing a program to calculate the average (mean) of a list of numbers. Here’s a simple Python code snippet that demonstrates this:

# List of numbers
numbers = [10, 15, 20, 25, 30]

# Calculate the sum of the numbers
sum_of_numbers = sum(numbers)

# Calculate the average
average = sum_of_numbers / len(numbers)

# Print the result
print(“The average is:”, average)

  1. We start with a list of numbers [10, 15, 20, 25, 30].
  2. We use the sum() function to calculate the sum of all the numbers in the list, which is 10 + 15 + 20 + 25 + 30 = 100.
  3. We then calculate the average by dividing the sum (100) by the number of elements in the list (which is 5), giving us an average of 20.
  4. Finally, we print out the result, which displays “The average is: 20” on the screen.

This is just one simple example, but math is used extensively in coding for a wide range of tasks, from basic arithmetic operations like addition and subtraction to more complex mathematical calculations, such as solving equations, working with matrices, and implementing algorithms for tasks like sorting and searching. Coding allows us to automate and efficiently perform mathematical operations in various applications and domains.

Coding makes math more fun

“My kids ask to program with Tynker because they enjoy it,” says Jennifer Apy, the parent of a 15-year-old, an 11-year-old, and an 8-year-old. “Without realizing it, my kids are identifying attributes and grouping variables, applying conditional logic, developing algorithmic functions, and calculating angles within geometric shapes. But most of all, they are patiently articulating hypotheses to solve problems, and boldly applying trial-and-error experimentation, strategies required by any field of study. And this is in addition to some of the coding that requires real math – to correctly calculate wait times, set score counters, calculate points, and time interactions between characters in their games.”

“If kids realize they are using math when programming Tynker games,” Apy says, “it could actually build their confidence with math and show them that mathematical thinking can be cool.”

Math is cool? What could be better than that?

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About Tynker

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.

1 Comment

  1. brian 10 years ago

    We use programing and math in much the same way to teach what I consider to be a fundamental skill; the ability to break a large problem down in to smaller problems. In life, you are often faced with problems that seem insurmountable when looked at as a whole. The ability to break those down into logical and manageable units is a skill that enables you do to huge things and not get stuck only facing problems that come to you as bite sized. When you focus math and programing teaching at that goal, the practical applications become much more clear even to those that don’t plan on using advanced math or programming in life. I completely agree, that the underlying skills that make you good at either of these things, will pay dividends long down the road even if you never write another line of code or solve for the area under a curve.


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