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Math Science Fair Projects

There are a lot of great ideas for math science fair projects. This one was inspired by a report published in the May 8, 2009 issue of the journal Science.

The researchers used brain imaging to look at the brain while people were doing mental math.

They found that when subjects were performing addition, parts of the brain became active that are usually active when we move our eyes to the right. When the subjects were performing subtraction, parts of their brain became active which normally work when we move our eyes to the left.

It was as though the subjects had a little number line in their head, and when adding their eyes mentally moved right, and when subtracting their eyes mentally moved to the left.

Surprisingly, the researchers never actually looked at their subjects eyes!

This creates a huge opportunity for a young person to build on their research. All you need to do is make up a series of addition or subtraction problems for people to do mentally, and then record whether (and in which direction) their eyes move while doing the problem.

The biggest challenge may be experimental bias. Since you know your hypothesis, you may not be able to acurately judge which way their eyes are moving. So you may want a partner, who does not know your hypothesis, to observe and record the eye movements for you.

Return to Science Current Events.

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