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No Monkey Business with Math Calculating Primates

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Most of us have difficulty with math. The exercise lands in the categories somewhere between going to the dentist and paying bills. However, math is an important function of higher order thinking. It requires the ability to understand quantities of information and put those into symbols for manipulation. According to a recent study in the National Academy of Science (PNAS) Rhesus Monkeys have the ability to do math using similar methods as humans.  Using three Rhesus Macques that are four and five years old the researchers put them into an intense math learning program. The monkeys studied two to four hours a day and were rewarded with treats. Sometimes these monkeys studied seven days a week in their own learning classes.  The monkeys touched a screen choosing between two options ( 1 ). The touch screen only required them to touch the right answers to get rewarded (conditioning). They were taught 26 abstract symbols by reinforcing correct learning. The monkeys were able

PISA Report: U.S. Mediocre in Education

Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, recently released its 2012 results for creative problem solving for real life solutions. They looked at numerous countries to determine which 15-year-olds are best equipped to handle various problems.   The results compare the U.S. against other nations in global trends. The results indicate the U.S. is not doing very well and has lots of room for improvement.  Among the 34 OECD nations the U.S. is performing below average with a ranking of 26 in math, 17 in reading and 21 in science.   The silver lining is that the country has not slipped from previous positions and seems to match their European counterparts. However, the results rank behind a number of Asian countries.  More strikingly, 26% of American students don’t even reach the minimum requirements to be tested leaving them off the test. This is higher than the average of 23% in other countries. Top performers within the country are 2% compared against 3% for the