Inspiring Math Learning Through Coding

For too many teachers and parents, computer coding may be the equivalent to Klingon; a complex language in which only the bravest (which in this context means 'nerdiest') among us know. However, for those bold enough to go where the majority of instructors and students circumvent, coding can be a great vehicle for inspiring a greater degree of learning within the study of mathematics and beyond.

If attention is drawn to how and why is math being used, not only can coding build the math skills themselves, but it can also be a bridge to support math confidence for a child. While coding isn't the only tool for improving math, it can be one of the most beneficial sources of growth for those studying the subject. Coding allows children a way to create the world as they see it or how they think it should be. It offers both a bridge for analytical data as well as creativity.

Coding gives definition to abstract concepts, passing onto a learner the ability to create huge (in a literal sense) learning situations that are too impossible or improbable to use in real life. Building a roller coaster is one example of how math and coding connect. During the creation of a roller-coaster; velocity, gravity, angles, and speed are explored to build a thrilling ride. Through the use of math and coding, a team can design a structure without the risk of a lawsuit or loss of life.

Michael Priyev-- seasoned math tutor and founder of Eureka Math Tutors--says, "Flexibility and creativity in learning is vital to math success, and when a student truly understands a math concept, they will try new things, become more playful with concepts, and attempt to combine solutions from one area with those learned in other problems or areas."

'The Common Core Math Standards' call for proficient students to "plan a solution pathway," which is also a skill improved upon through coding. Being able to both view problems as a whole unit--while still seeing the sum of many parts-- is precisely what coding does. Students can independently decide on what to use code for and then do research to find already written code. This can be pieced together to generate an agreed upon end product. There is little reason to create code from scratch initially as a piecemeal approach can encourage collaboration--an underutilized skill within many traditional math lessons.

Most code will need to be personalized, but students can learn how coding works through a collective approach. Through collaborative methods, students gain the edge needed to generate personal creations. In doing this, students build reasoning, communication, and problem solving skills.

Errors are bound to happen during any process of learning. Making mistakes is part of both life and math development. Due to mistakes being virtual, coding lends itself to productive 'mistake-making,' whereas traditional math lessons tend to be very stressful or intimidating.

Coding is flexible. It can be applied by students of all ages. Like a ruler, anyone can use it, and neither age nor ability enhance or encumber utilization. In fact, even lack of access to technology does not need to prevent students from doing activities and playing games that build coding skills. Building a firm coding foundation and understanding of the basics help when students later gain access to technology and their supporting skills have also matured.

Arguably though, the biggest benefit to learning is the development of metacognition; the ability to monitor and adjust ones own thinking and learning. Students need to understand how to recognize for themselves when they are on the right track or when they are lost within a math-learning environment. The language aspects of coding allow for these types of conversations, making it obvious when a student doesn't understand a concept, or needs to take additional steps to build foundational skills before tackling complex concepts.

Coding is a tool for the teaching toolbox that becomes highly successful when incorporated with additional learning methods. Its importance in the field of computer science is undeniable and will continue to be a strong player as technology continues to advance. Students must prepare for their futures. Math instruction--that includes coding--is a top choice to build success among young adults.