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This week, the New York Times began a series on math and science education. In this week’s article, Who Says Math Has to Be Boring?, the NYT editorial board discusses the rapid increase in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math (known collectively as STEM) while the number of college students who choose to pursue STEM-related careers is decreasing. The key to increasing the qualified workforce in these fields is engaging students at a young age:

A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income. Full Article

Montessori math materials engage students in hands-on learning, beginning with concrete examples of mathematical principles and eventually becoming more abstract as children move through their elementary years. Once again, current research confirms what Montessorians have known for more than a century!