Although you do not need to be a math expert to learn how to code, coding can help to improve math and computational skills. Take a traditional subject like math, which some students find boring, and disguise it as a super fun puzzle to build games, apps and more, students inadvertently are making leaps and bounds in their mathematical intellect without even knowing it. In fact, students who learn to code are more likely to have an increase in their overall academic performance! How? Because coding encompasses universal skills.
Coding = Logic
One of the fundamental skills required in excelling in mathematics is logic. To prove theorems, mathematicians must use inference and reasoning to take steps in finding solutions. For mathematicians, these skills are second nature, but to kids, these cognitive feats may seem daunting and difficult to learn… Enter coding!
To build a new app, game, cartoon or whatever may interest the coder, they must embark on the process of building the program to complete certain tasks. For example, say a student is designing a video game. Throughout the process of online coding, they must think logically about what the avatar in the game will do dependent on what the player decides. If the player presses the space bar, the avatar will jump. Every single action and reaction must be foreseen, analyzed and have a solution for in the code. This advanced form of applying logic is fundamental to coding, just as essential as applying logic in the field of mathematics.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
Another important lesson gleaned from coding is that mistakes do not equal failure. When writing code, the programmer will try several different codes to figure out which one works to solve the problem. In fact, making mistakes is anticipated! The more a coder equates making mistakes as just a necessary part of the process, as opposed to a failure, they are more likely to persevere until they find the right solution. This way of thinking applies across all fields of academia, particularly math, as the student must try different formulas or methods until they reach the correct answer.
Creativity when making mistakes is also par for the course in coding. Programmers must employ creative problem-solving in the development of their design, so they will try a wide variety of methods to crack those complications and solve their goals.
Make Math Fun
What child would choose memorizing long formulas over designing a fun new app for their tablet? Since at its root coding is math, getting students as engaged as possible in the process automatically lends itself to those math skills being sharpened subconsciously. Kids who are learning how to code aren’t thinking about how they are applying the quadratic formula, they are navigating algorithms and using logic to figure out how to make the avatar in the game jump. Disguising the learning of complex math concepts as a challenge to get the game to do what they want, loads of valuable knowledge are rapidly being ingested within their brains. It’s no secret that kids learn better when they are engaged, and coding provides exactly that type of outlet.
In addition to having fun learning how to code, the actual products that are designed by code are absolutely incredible. Virtual robots, stories brought to life through animation, apps that provide more ease and convenience to our everyday lives… all of these things are lines of code at their root. Opening up the world of possibilities with coding encourages a deep fascination and desire to learn its methods.
Coding & The Big 8
The Common Core math standards have evolved to not only teach the math content, but the mathematical practices behind it as well. Many of these standards are reinforced in the process of coding.
The first standard is make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Let’s say I am designing a simple game where a dog catches falling bones from the sky. I am immediately applying the first practice when I start to develop the game. How do I get the dog to move? How does the dog open its mouth? How do I get the bones to fall? I need to make sense of the problems I face in designing the game and try different code until the program does what I intend it to.
Another standard is reason abstractly and quantitatively. Math requires students to visualize abstract concepts and make sense of their quantities. In making my game, I must visualize what I want the game to do and then figure out how tell the computer to do it. I need to call upon my logical reasoning and use critical thinking to find creative ways to execute my plan.
A final standard is attend to precision. Just like in solving a complicated algebra problem, writing code is a precise practice that must be executed without errors. In creating my game, that doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t occur, because they will, but once I figure out where the mistake is and correct it, the game runs as I intend it to.
Ultimately, coding reinforces problem-solving and persistence. These respectable skills are absolutely applicable to all domains of not only academia, but to life itself. Coders have the upper hand in repeatedly applying these valuable skills to reach their goals, and effectively cross that bridge to success in mathematics as well!