The abacus is an ancient calculating tool that
was invented for counting large numbers. Soroban
is the Japanese abacus that is believed to have
been developed in the 17th century. It is
derived from suanpan, which is the Chinese
Soroban is quite similar in appearance to suanpan. Unlike the suanpan, soroban has only one row. Also, it has two rows of beads in the upper deck. Further, in the lower deck it has only four rows of beads instead of five. The beads equal the same amount as in suanpan, but with one less bead. Moreover, there is no carrying of numbers in soroban.
Japanese students first learn suanpan during their teens. Sometimes they also attend special abacus schools. The simplicity and the appearance of soroban are quite similar to a toy. As a result the children never feel bored while doing calculations on it.
The benefits of Japanese abacus on the students are manifold. With every problem the students solve on Soroban, they exercise their brain. As a result they gradually become experts in recalling mathematical rules, procedures, interim sums and products, finger movements and also in locating where they are in the solution process. It also enhances their concentration, attention and mental focus. Soroban-based mental calculations are a powerful mental workout and generate a flurry of mental activity among the students. This equips them to confidently perform challenging mental calculations.
Soroban has brain-boosting cognitive effects. It is for this reason it is used for the treatment of mental-decline, dementia and alzheimer's disease in the elderly people.
A skilled person can perform calculations much faster with a Japanese abacus than someone with an electronic calculator. For instance, in one competition that was held in 1946 between soroban and modern electromechanical calculator, soroban proved to be faster than the electromechanical calculator in four out of five occasions. It was only beaten by the electromechanical calculator in the multiplication problems.
From the above discussions we can now definitely conclude that Japanese abacus is the ultimate calculating tool for the children.
See also: Abacus in class 7 English essays section
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