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Our logo above encapsulates two important ideas that underpin our philosophy about multiplicative thinking. The central part of the logo features the Mayan symbol for zero which is of interest to us because zero plays a critical role in multiplicative thinking. The use of this symbol for zero by the the Mayas of Central and South America is perhaps the earliest systematic use of a symbol for zero in a place-value system. The Mayan zero symbol was used to indicate the absence of any units of the various orders of the modified base-twenty system. This system was probably used much more for recording calendar times than for computational purposes. The Maya counted essentially on a scale of 20, using for their basal numerals two elements, a dot representing one and a horizontal dash representing five. The most important feature of their system was their zero, as illustrated.

Also of interest to us is the Buddhist Eternal Knot, to the left and right of the Mayan zero, which symbolizes the connectedness of many ideas. This connectedness of multiplicative ideas is central to understanding multiplicative thinking and effectively articulating that understanding.

McNeill, S.A. (2001). The Mayan zeros. Mathematics Teacher 94,7, 590-592.


For a brief introduction to multiplicative thinking click this link Getting into Multiplicative Thinking.

For some children’s work samples to start you thinking, check out this PDF Do children in your class do or say these things?