For his math class Simon programmed a scratch pad (well, he didn’t actually invent the code, but found it in Daniel Shiffman’s coding challenges and built the scratch pad on his laptop). It’s just more fun to solve the equations in a self-programmed scratch pad than on paper, don’t you think?
It’s been great watching Simon turn a word problem into an equation today. He was busy with “Sums of consecutive integers” (Practice finding the nth number in a sequence of consecutive numbers based on the sum) on Khan Academy.
Equations have definitely become our friends now. Simon got really creative during his math lesson and came up with an “Algebra Visualization Kit” – creating an abstract representation of an equation using nuts and sticks and solving it:
He is also continuing to enjoy the scratch pad
And moved on to the next topic today: Linear equations word problems
Yesterday was a break-through day! Simon finally cracked those equations with variables on both sides, even the ones including parentheses! And this is what helped: just like with programming, he switched to English and tried to imitate the Khan Academy video’s he had watched. He also invented using different colour markers for the variables remaining on the same side of the equations and the variables he had to move to the opposite side. But what really catalysed the learning process was discovering a scratch pad on the Khan Academy interface: Simon, who normally hated writing things down when solving an equation, suddenly got a passion for carefully sketching all the steps, in different colours:
Equations with variables on both sides remain a difficult subject to grasp. Well, all right, we only tried it twice so far. On Monday evening I saw Simon sit down to practice these for himself, attempting to solve an equation by drawing scales. Dad spent an hour trying to explain the concept of bringing all the variables to one side and the “numbers” to the other, and how to do that. I think we’re almost there.