Move over Peter Parker, there’s a new superhero in town and this one’s packing more brainpower than Krang himself.
The self-styled Human Calculator (AKA Scott Flansburg) graced our screens this morning to promote World Maths Day, express his concern about the way we teach maths in this country and highlight the worrying percentage of the population who find arithmetic frankly baffling. Flansburg says he’s on a mission to change the way maths is taught in our schools and believes it has become ‘socially acceptable’ to have poor numeracy and arithmetic skills.
The interview was timely, coming as it does on the day The Times reported nearly 90% of British teenagers are reluctant to ask their parents for help with maths homework, and most have little faith they’d be any use anyway. According to a new survey, children consider their parents fairly redundant when it comes to maths homework – they use different methods and only serve to muddy the waters further. More than a quarter also said that their parents ‘give me a lecture when all I want is the answer’.
Of the 500 teenagers quizzed, 43% of Year 10 pupils (14/15 year olds) told researchers that they never asked their parents for help, while another 45 % said that they hardly ever did so. Only 1 per cent said they often asked for help.
Any of this tally with your experience? I thought so, therefore in the spirit of The Human Calculator and to spare the blushes of students and parents alike, here’s some top maths apps and web tools that are not only there to help, but also serve to put the fun back into, err, the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. Yeesh.
Math Ref: Very useful app (2nd place in the Best Young Adults App 2011 – Best App Ever Awards) containing over 1,400 formulas, figures and examples to help you with maths, physics and loads more. Make use of the growing list of helpful tools such as the quadratic solver to perform common calculations. Ideal for students struggling with Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry Integration, Prime Numbers and other similar-level concepts.
GCSE Bitesize / BBC Schools: What better place for GCSE and A-level maths help than our dearly beloved Beeb and their fantastic learning resource that has run for over a decade? Bitesize is the first stop for all things GCSE whilst Schools goes a little more in-depth for those approaching A-level. Plenty of resources there for teachers and parents too, as well as useful forums for kids.
MathStudio: MathStudio is one of the most comprehensive maths apps available for Android phones and tablets. From the simplest of calculators to more advanced TI graphing and scientific calculators, MathStudio is a powerful and versatile calculator that traverses age groups and ability ranges.
MathHelper: Not just a useful tool with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a maths app, MathHelper enables you to solve the problem as well as understand the process of solving it by taking you through step by step.
Solve Pro: Another very worthy app that gives you everything you’ll ever need in a calculator. Check out the interactive tutorials to get started then multiply numbers, plot graphs and solve equations until your heart’s content. Parents? Who needs ‘em?
Derivatives & Integrals Guide: All the bases covered when it comes to trigonometry identities, integrals and derivatives through multiple-choice quizzes, flashcards and dictionary of terms. Introduce an element of competitive edge by quizzing with friends over text message and post your scores to find out your global ranking.
Math Formulary: Does exactly what it says on the tin. Features entire sets of formulas and definitions Math Formulary is an entire encyclopedia crammed with mathematical knowledge spanning school and university level.
Cut the Knot: Interactive Mathematics Miscellany: A plethora of maths based puzzles and games covering Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometory, Calculus – the list goes on. And on. If you really want to drill down into your Mathematics revision this site beats your battered old textbook into a cocked hat.
Pocket Math: Pocket Math is a unique quick reference android application that gives the user a list of all basic quant concepts and formulae with brief explanations.
A Level Mathematics part 1 / part 2: The first part of A-Level Maths e-notes covers many topics you’d expect to find in early A-level maths classes. Select a topic from the list or flip through the pages. Part 2 takes on the rest of the syllabus and should have your back covered, whatever they throw at you.
Educational technology is fast moving and ever developing with incredible new products appearing daily. If you have come across any apps, websites or useful tools that serve to help those with special educational needs, please share them with us in the comment box below or via our twitter feed.