# Math mind hacks: Guesstimate

Photo from Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research.

Estimation is a skill everyone uses. You estimate how much cheese is enough for your party, or how long it takes you to drive to your friend’s house. But some people estimate much better than others. Why so? Cognitive neuroscientists Park and Brannon have two pieces of good news you can use.

First, their study confirms that you can train your Approximate Number System (ANS) to improve your guessing and estimation skills. This is not surprising: most math-related skills are trainable. Here is the more exciting, brand-new finding: guesstimating improves your ability to do symbolic addition and subtraction.

From the abstract: This finding strongly supports the hypothesis that complex math skills are fundamentally linked to rudimentary preverbal quantitative abilities and provides the first direct evidence that the ANS and symbolic math may be causally related.

Update: Sheryl Morris commented on Facebook that a Montessori bead version of this mini-poster would work well. Here it is.

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###### One comment on “Math mind hacks: Guesstimate”
1. An excellent piece that goes into lots of good detail on this is a chapter found in Mathsemantics, by Edward MacNeal. He says to estimate often, commit to your estimate by writing it down or saying it to someone, and then check your estimate. He also describes the value of knowing a few key numbers, like population of the earth, the country you live in, the city you live in, etc.

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1. […] numbers without counting may improve their ability to do regular arithmetic? Maria tells how in Math mind hacks: Guesstimate. Be sure to check out the rest of the tips in her Math mind hacks series, research-based snippets […]

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