The Butterfly Effect in Learning Math

Butterfly Effect
Arrays in Multiplication

Addition leads to multiplying!

Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect?  In 1963, Edward Lorenz made a presentation to the New York Academy of Sciences and was literally laughed out of the room. His theory, called the Butterfly Effect, stated that a butterfly could flap its wings and set air molecules in motion that, in turn, would move other air molecules–which would then move additional air molecules–eventually becoming able to influence weather patterns on the other side of the planet. For years this theory remained an interesting myth. 

Crazy right? 

Well, in the mid 1990s, physics professors from several universities, working cooperatively, proved that the Butterfly Effect was accurate, realistic and worked every time.

The point?  Everything you do matters.  Every decision you make has consequences. Effort counts. Small things turn into big things… it’s the little things that make up the big things.  By focusing on small daily efforts, in time, the efforts will add up to big changes.

Now, let’s tie that to learning math.  Do you hear your child say “I don’t get this!”  “This is too hard!”  “I will never learn this!”  “Why do I have to learn this?!”   This is the first step — combating negative self-talk.   Be aware of the thoughts and the statements — NO ONE masters new ideas or concepts at the first try.   It takes time, practice and a positive, can-do attitude.  As a parent, try these replies: “Wow, this seems tough for you – let’s look at it together” or “Remember when you had trouble with learning to ride your bike?  But you kept trying and did it!  We can work through this challenge too.”

As tutors, we see the Butterfly Effect in its full glory every day.  First, a student learns to add 3 + 3 + 3, later they are multiplying 3 x 3…onward to dividing 27 ÷ 3 = 9 and wow! multiplying is the same as 3 cubed = 27 then they learn the formula for the volume of a cuboid, then…well you get the idea!  And it all started with learning to add!  Beautiful Butterfly Effect!

Butterfly Effect

Keep flapping your wings – each flap has an effect.

Let’s face it.  Math can be frustrating.  Math can be challenging.  Math can seem impossible.  But, making the decision to keep flapping your wings will have an effect.  It may take 1,000 flaps or 10,000 flaps but the effect will be felt at some point.   

The Butterfly Effect is everywhere if we keep looking for it.


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