# How Abacus Helps this Franklin Park High School Student Crush Pre Calculus

Here at Math Genie, we love the abacus. It’s the core of what we teach every student– even as young as three! It helps make numbers tangible and gives everyone who uses the abacus a deep, lifelong understanding of mathematics. One of the people who best demonstrates this understanding is Somer, who we previously discussed in this blog post by Jennifer. We had already mentioned some of Somer’s accomplishments, but today we’re going to look deeper at those accomplishments and recap how MathGenie was able to help her.

Precalculus is a step above Algebra (what other students the same age as Somer are taking), but it’s also a lot more complex than Algebra. At its core, PreCalculus is Algebra and Trigonometry mashed together with problems designed to transition students into learning Calculus (which is an even more complex mix of the two maths). With that blend of two forms of maths, students deal with combinatorics, conic sections, matrices, polynomials, and functions all of these elements usually using complex numbers. Usually, all these elements are intertwined thoroughly enough it can make your head spin. So, to simplify everything for students the bulk of PreCalculus is split into two sections: memorization and calculation.

Memorization is when students memorize all of the relevant formulas and the situations where they can use them so that the student can solve even the most complex problems. Some people find this difficult, but after a few sessions of flashcards, even toddlers could be taught these formulas. The hard part of Calculus and Precalculus is the actual calculation that has to be done.

Usually higher level math problems are solved using calculators. You plug in the numbers and it spits out the answer. There is an issue here though, even one number typed in wrong or if the formatting is wrong by the tiniest bit, your results can be skewed and the answer becomes drastically different from the actual answer. This is why mental math is key in modern mathematics.

Every time you pick up a calculator one slip of a finger your answer becomes wrong, so why not establish a basic skill that means you use it less? Additionally, a core element of mental math is the ability to quickly estimate an answer. This skill can quickly help you realize any mistakes on homework or tests if you do accidentally type a number in incorrectly.

Of course by now you’re wondering, ‘How does this relate to abacus?’

Here at Math Genie, we teach mental math using the abacus, it was the original calculator after all. With an abacus, you start with addition and subtraction then can build up to multiplication and division. Once you have those skills you are already using mental math. All students are concurrently taught to do these problems mentally and it becomes second nature.

Problems that I (as someone who was not raised with Math Genie) would write out, then on the side do long division can be done in seconds by Math Genie students. It is something I never saw outside of videos about math geniuses and here it is taught in a way anyone can learn. And at first, I wondered what would happen when they stop doing the daily mental exercises. Somer is a key example of how this skill sticks with students.

Somer has been able to stay in honors and advanced math classes for 6 years since she finished Math Genie. Now she is able to continue excelling and completing problems faster and more accurately when in a college-level course. She is two years younger than her peers and still showing that she has a better fundamental understanding of math than everyone else. She can do her work faster than them too, which is key with many of the higher-level math exams. Soon enough Somer will be going to college, and I’m sure that she will continue using these skills to astound others. It all started with Math Genie.

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