# Question Sheet: Wired for Math

SCIENCE

1. When do you think that you started to understand how to add numbers? What

helped you to learn how to add?

2. Why do you think that some people are better at math than other people are?

1. Elizabeth Spelke says, “Our brains seem to come equipped with systems for

estimating amounts and doing arithmetic.” Explain why she makes this statement.

2. Why is Spelke interested in learning about children’s “inborn sense of

number”?

3. What does it mean that “a number is a symbol”? Give two examples.
4. What evidence did the researchers have to conclude that young children are

able to “add and compare amounts”?

5. Why do Spelke and her team conclude that a child’s sense of number is not

dependent on language?

6. What do young children have a particularly hard time learning?

1. Design an experiment, giving some sample problems, that would provide

2. Do you think that kids who are particularly good estimators are also better

at math in school? Why or why not?

3. Spelke and her coworkers came up with five experiments to test how well

preschoolers can estimate quantities. What might have been the team’s hypothesis

for each experiment?

4. Compare a child’s ability to speak but not write with a child’s ability to

estimate but not understand numbers. How are these ideas similar and different?

5. Why is it important to study math? See mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.why.math.html (Math Forum @

Drexel).

6. What is numeracy? See www.literacyandnumeracy.gov.au/2005/for_parents.htm

(Australian Government).

SOCIAL STUDIES

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) compares how well U.S. students (fourth- and eighth-graders) do in mathematics and science to how well students in other countries do. When was the last study done? How well did the United States do in math? What were the top three countries in math for each grade level? Why do you think these countries had the best results? When will the next study occur? See nces.ed.gov/timss/ and nces.ed.gov/timss/Results03.asp (National Center for Education Statistics).

LANGUAGE ARTS

1. Write a letter to a math teacher suggesting some ways to teach math to small