As the countdown continues to the start of Brain Chase, we have been receiving more and more questions about the how kids can prepare for the treasure hunt. In general, I would say watch the teaser, find the clues, and be patient. Actually, I do have one suggestion for anyone attempting to prepare for the treasure hunt – Practice Math.
Although most of us think that math is simply working with numbers, in reality, math has a much broader scope. Learning math provides you with a set of tools that enable you to solve problems, like modifying a recipe in the kitchen, figuring out the taxes owed on a purchase, or even finding the Globe of Magellan.
There are three steps to solving problems. First, you need to identify and understand the problem. The next step is gathering and interpreting the necessary data. Last, you need to develop a strategy and execute it.
Solving math problems is a great way to practice these steps. To illustrate, here is a typical word problem that you might find within a fifth grade classroom:
John bought a new bike for $350. He put $110 down as a first payment and received a student discount of $30. His mother gave him 1/2 of the first payment for his birthday. How much does John still owe on the bike?
To solve this, students first need to understand that the problem is asking them to find the amount of money left on a $350 bike after a $110 down payment and a $30 discount. A student who has learned to interpret data would hopefully realize that the birthday money is irrelevant to the problem since it is referring to the initial down payment. Once all of the data has been analyzed, the problem can then be solved using basic math skills (It’s $210. Are you smarter than a 5th grader?).
As this word problem illustrates, math is so much more than simple adding and subtraction. It actually teaches us how to identify and solve problems. More importantly, studies have shown that practicing math provides critical thinking and reasoning skills that can sharpen our analytical skills. For this reason, Francis Bacon said “If a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics.”
So, if you are looking to gain an edge in the upcoming treasury hunt, practice some math problems. By practicing you will be training your mind to find clues, identify miss information, and build strategies. And these skills just might help you win the $10,000 scholarship fund.