Why 5-Year-Old Kids Can Do Algebra

Why was gender irrelevant in these experiments? Probably because the researchers used stuffed animals and common tokens, like buttons and coins, instead of words, spoken or written, and algebraic equations.

"I think when we put this problem in the form of a game and we don't make it about getting the right answer, the kids know how to play the game," Kibbe said. "When they get into school, that's where you start to see the gender gap. Girls and boys have the same gut level of instincts, but different factors come into play when they are in the school setting."

Even though all the kids in these experiments were 4 to 6 years old, a year can be a lot to a preschooler, so it's also a little surprising that the 4-year-olds were just as good at algebra as the 6-year-olds. That suggests "number sense" begins incredibly early, and remains with us for a long, long time.

But it's not going to help much with advanced algebra.

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