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You Can Count on It!

Luis Fernandes has put together an interesting web site dedicated to the world of The Abacus: The Art of Calculating with Beads. Mathematics teachers can use the site to enrich their students understanding of place value and calculations, plus build cultural connections.

To illustrate the wealth on this site, consider the following:

  • An introduction to the components of an abacus and its use
  • The history of the abacus, covering such things as the Salamis Tablet, the Counting Board, the Roman Hand Abacus, the Suan Pan, the Soroban, the Schoty, the Nepohualtzitzin, the Khipu, the Lee Abacus, and a general timeline
  • An interactive Java-powered abacus that allos wou to change its size, type (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Roman, Russian, or Danish), and base (2-34)
  • The abacus as art, ala Michael Mode's exotic creations
  • Some interesting articles on competitions between abacus-users and electronic calculator-users or the Inca Quipu
  • Teacher resources such as build/buying abacii, lesson plans, making an abacus out of Legos, downloading an abacus for a PDA, watch with abacii for faces to tell time, the world smallest abacus (built out of molecules), and other relevant web links
The site is information, quite complete, and lots of fun. My challenge to you and your students: Use the applet to try to find cube roots of numbers in base 13!