Abacus: Learn how to choose the best in 2021
Do you know what an abacus is and the wonders that this tool does in the learning process? Because today is the day that we are going to talk about this ancient calculation tool that continues to rise in and out of classrooms.
Considered the world’s first calculator, the abacus facilitates children’s learning and stimulates the logical and cognitive ability of young people and adults.
In this article, we will show the importance of having an abacus, how to use it and how to choose the best model among those on the market. Come with us
First, the most important
- The abacus is an ancient manual calculator proven to be effective for learning the decimal number system and mathematical operations.
- Academic studies have proven that the abacus can be faster than modern calculators.
- In this article, we will show you how and why to use an abacus from childhood to adulthood and how to choose the best abacus for you.
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The best abacuses on the market: Our favorites
Whether for home use, or because the school requested it, the abacus is a very effective tool for both environments. Thinking about it, we gathered in this ranking the best models to facilitate your search and choice.
- A complete abacus
- A very practical abacus
- A sturdy wooden abacus
- An open abacus option
You may not remember how to use an abacus anymore, but this tool is very important in child development. An old calculation tool that has not fallen out of favor.
Want to learn more about the benefits of this ancient tool? Keep reading that we will bring you all the essential information so that you know how to choose yours.
What is an abacus and what is it for?
The abacus is considered the first calculation instrument created and used by man. Its origin is not fully known, but it is believed to have originated somewhere in China, Egypt, India or Mesopotamia more than 5,500 years ago.
Despite being so old – and even with the advent of electronic calculators – it is still a widely used tool worldwide, including in Brazil.
Created to represent numbers and perform simple and complex mathematical operations, today the abacus is used mainly as a pedagogical tool.
It is formed by a frame with rods and beads. Each stem corresponds to a decimal position (units, tens, hundreds, etc.). And on each stem are the beads, which are moved to represent numbers and mathematical operations.
So that you can understand, in a simplified way, we will give you an example: to represent the number 5 in an abacus with vertical rods, you must place five beads on the rod of the units.
In order to represent the number 15, an account is added to the stem on the left, which represents the tens.
This is a fundamental process, adopted in many schools, to help children in the learning phase to understand our decimal number system. Currently, there are abacuses that range from the simple model, known as the counter, to the more complex one, such as the Japanese, Chinese and Russian Soroban. We will delve deeper into this topic in the Purchasing Criteria topic.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the abacus?
As stated above, although millenary and ultramodern calculators exist today, the abacus is a powerful tool in early childhood education.
With it, the child can more quickly and effectively understand the base 10 number system and basic operations, such as adding and subtracting. But its advantages do not stop in early childhood.
Abacus is also widely used by young people and adults because it stimulates logical reasoning, concentration and acts as a reinforcement of memory, while the practitioner does the math in his head.
According to academic studies, Chinese students are able to make complex accounts faster with an abacus than a Westerner using a modern calculator.
At higher levels, it is also possible to use the abacus for complex accounts such as multiplication, division and problem solving with fractions and square roots.
In some regions of Asia, for example, even today traders prefer to use the abacus over calculating machines. There are even competitions around the world that have already proven that the calculation made with the abacus can be faster than that made with calculators.
In addition to all these advantages, the abacus is also an important teaching tool for the visually impaired.
Chinese students can make complex accounts faster with an abacus than a Westerner using a modern calculator.
On the other hand, there are minor disadvantages in using the instrument. The abacus requires training and practice. But today, with technology, it is possible to learn easily and quickly how to use the abacus even in videos on Youtube.
Another disadvantage is that, with the abacus, if you make a mistake, you have to start from scratch. Still, as you will see in the table of advantages and disadvantages below, the benefits of using abacus are greater.
Abacus is a product that varies widely in price. This variation occurs depending on the material of manufacture, the size and the number of rods and parts that each has. Therefore, the prices of the abacus vary between R $ 10 and R $ 300.
For initial and children’s learning it is not necessary to invest in a very expensive instrument. The more expensive abacuses are more suitable for young people, adults and professionals because they have greater durability.
Where to buy an abacus?
It is very common to find abacuses in large chain stores, bookstores, department stores and hypermarkets.
However, the greatest variety of models and prices you can find in online sales stores such as Amazon of course, the convenience of being able to choose the best option for you without leaving your home.
Purchasing criteria: Factors to consider before buying your abacus
Before choosing which abacus to buy, whether for you, your children or students, it is important to understand what differentiates one model from the other. To help you make your purchasing decision, we have listed below the most important factors to consider:
- School Abacus and Soroban Abacus
- Manufacturing material
- Number of rods
- Horizontal or vertical
Below, we will detail each of these factors so that you can make the best decision.
School Abacus and Soroban Abacus
There are several types of abacuses, but the main and most used today are school and Japanese abacuses. The difference between the two is subtle and much more structural, since both perform the same functions.
The school abacus is an ideal teaching material for working with children on the positional value of numbers. This type of abacus can be either vertical or horizontal, closed or open, as you will see in the topics below.
The Japanese abacus , known as Soroban, has only vertical rods, which, like the school abacus, represent units, tens, hundreds and so on.
The difference is that in Soroban there is a horizontal dividing bar. Above it you find an account, corresponding to the number 5. And, below, there are four accounts each worth 1.
In a simplified way, when we move an account from the bottom until it touches the dividing bar we have represented the number 1. Moving another account, we have the number 2 and so on.
To represent the number 5, just move an account from the top down until it touches the bar. From there it is possible to perform complex mathematical operations with practice and training, as you can see in the video below.
It is important to know in advance what material the abacus is made of as this will influence the durability of your tool.
The traditional abacus, also the most durable and most expensive, has its frame and rods made of wood. There are options for both children and professionals.
On the other hand, you can also find plastic abacuses on the market. Although they are more fragile, it is possible to maintain them for a long time by taking certain precautions.
Number of rods
The number of stems is one of the most important factors to consider before deciding which abacus to buy. That’s because, each stem represents a numerical house: unit, ten, hundred and so on per day.
Thus, the greater the number of rods, the greater the abacus calculation capacity and the more complex the mathematical operations will be.
For example, in an abacus with only four rods, the largest number that can be represented will be 9,999. In an abacus with seven rods, it is possible to represent up to the number 9,999,999.
For children in the learning phase, it is recommended to start with abacuses with four to five rods, which can reach up to 10 rods. For young people and adults, the number of stems can vary from 13 to 27. The Japanese Soroban, for example, has 23 stems.
Horizontal or vertical
There are two types of abacuses, considering the position of their rods: vertical and horizontal.
Abacuses with horizontal rods are always closed. In this case, you must move the accounts from right to left depending on the operation you want to perform.
Abacuses with vertical rods , on the other hand, can be both open, in which you place and remove the beads; when closed, in which the accounts are dragged up or down.
The Japanese soroban, as stated earlier, will always be closed with vertical stems. The vertical abacus has a great advantage over the horizontal abacus, especially for children who are in the learning phase.
This type of abacus makes it possible to move the pieces so that they can be placed and removed. In subtraction activities, for example, this type of abacus facilitates the process since the user needs to remove and regroup pieces in different positions.