Category Archives: Math

Use Your Math Intuition | TutorNerds

Classroom parties are always a good time. Snacks, laughs, games, maybe even an unexpected educational moment or two. But how come everyone secretly can’t wait for it to end? Maybe it’s because there’s a whole lot of jellybeans at stake. The curiosity in the back of the classroom, a large mason jar filled with candy, has drawn more attention than Mr. Ludlow’s embarrassing dance moves.

“Closest Guess to Actual Amount Wins Candy,” reads the paper, crudely held on to the jar by two strips of scotch tape. Fair enough, I could guess that. Let’s see – from what I can count, there’s at least a hundred and fifty. A respectable strategy. After all, counting is one of the staples of mathematics. Mr. Ludlow would be proud. So how come, after hours of painstaking anticipation, it’s revealed that my guess was 335 jellybeans shy of a victory? And how come Jonas, who merely glanced at the jar, guessed five over? He doesn’t even like Jelly Beans.


There’s three answers that come to mind: Jonas thought about the numbers intuitively, Jonas was lucky, Jonas cheated. Only the first one is relevant to learning, so let’s discuss. In Annie Murphy Paul’s article, How Guessing Games Help Kids Solve Math Problems this phenomenon of intuitive thinking is now being supported by science. In her words,

“a new study suggests that by playing games that involve quickly guessing how many items are in a group of objects, children can help themselves become better at traditional math problems.”

What the article calls “an intuitive sense of numbers” can be of great benefit to a student. In detail, intuition creates a personal connection to numbers  basic counting fails to do. Instead of approaching a difficult math problem as foreign, a student may now feel familiar with the units on the paper, and have a sense of familiarity with the problem. As a result, the student can answer the question faster and with more accuracy. Paul’s article draws on many studies to support these claims:

“Other research has shown that children who are better at intuitive number tasks also have higher math grades and perform better on math tests—but Hyde’s study first to provide a causal link. Their research shows that practice on intuitive number tasks actually causes better math performance in children.”

From an educator’s standpoint, it’s an important skill that’s easily practiced. Tutors, teachers, and parents can support this way of thinking by simply asking, “how many so-and-so’s do you think are in there?” Once the student begins using intuition to sense numbers, he or she, with practice, will begin to do so with accuracy.


Here at TutorNerds, we are committed to giving you an advantage. Whether you’re seeking help in Pre-Algebra,  Statistics, etc. our process of matching you with the right tutor is the first step to mathematical success. If you are concerned your intuitive sense of numbers isn’t what it should be, what better way to improve than a professional tutor, at your convenience, working directly with you? Read more about how we operate here.

Back to the mason jar. Turns out Jonas had a great tutor growing up.  Thanks to years of guessing, “how many so-and-so’s? ” His intuition for numbers is strong. More importantly, Jonas has higher math scores to compliment his pockets full of jellybeans.

Does Music Complement Math and Science Test Scores? | TutorNerds

Want Higher Math and Science Test Scores? Put on Your Headphones

From space travel to Silicon Valley, America has always been an innovative, progress forward country. Further, most of the world’s best Universities are found in our nation, as well as the biggest corporations, eager to hire their recent grads. So how come our children are posting flat test scores in science and math? Should we be concerned other nations, such as Singapore, are seeing test scores skyrocket, while ours remain flat? Of course we should.

With innovation comes the need for high-skilled workers. From engineers to statisticians, companies are beginning to rely on other countries to supply the brainpower where the U.S. lacks. To be fair, this isn’t a bad or unnatural thing, since globalization is the driving force of today’s economy, but it raises concerns in the realm of competitiveness. And where there is concern, there is debate.

slidebird1In an effort to pinpoint the ‘where and why’ American students aren’t learning as fast and efficiently as their contemporaries, schools have given (arguably) math and science most of their attention. Pressure is the keyword, as districts demand test scores are the main focus. Like a business consultant hired to eliminate overhead, schools are beginning to push subjects like music and art farther and farther down the priority list.

In Music Education for Creativity, Not A Tool For Test Scores, author Sarah McCammon reports that music educators are pleading music’s untestable benefits as the reason their classes should remain relevant. In her words,

 “some advocates say that rhetoric is missing the point and overlooking the virtues of music that can’t be tested.”

Few would argue music isn’t important to development, but it’s difficult to see, on paper that is, how it improves test scores. But what about that other buzzword, the one that usually describes the great minds who started the corporations hiring all the engineers? That’s right, creativity. Undoubtedly a key component in competitiveness, and a staple of America’s economic dominance, creativity is difficult to test for, but vital for success. That’s why many music teachers are arguing their classes should remain high on the priority list. Having a well-rounded education, including the arts, helps a student approach math, sciences, and life in general with more creativity and depth.

science-test-score All of this is good and well, but is it a bit of an overreaction? Are schools really putting music on the back burner? Some would argue no. For instance, the NPR article suggests schools, in general, aren’t ditching the pianos and violins so soon. To illustrate, Russ Whitehurst,

“points to a 2010 U.S. Department of Education report that found 94 percent of public elementary schools offer some kind of music classes, even if hours are being cut back in many places.”

As creativity becomes a focus for schools, especially higher education, there’s no surprise courses such as Stanford’s “Creativity: Music to My Ears” are becoming available to everyone, including non-musicians. Whether or not more or less music is the answer, the problem of America’s science and math drought is real and troubling.

Struggling With Math and Science?

As global competitiveness continues to grow, it’s crucial students don’t get too far behind in such topics. Luckily, we’re here to help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your math and science courses, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Whether you’re from Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego, we’ll match you with the perfect tutor. From Pre-Algebra to Physics, we’ve got your back.