US 20010003644 A1
An educational device comprising a holder or axle (2) for a plurality of side by side revolvable arms (3) or counters whereby in use the arms revolve by twirling the holder or by manipulating arms so that when placed on a support surface some arms lie on the left hand side of the holder while the remaining arms lie on the right hand side of the holder. The device consists of arms which revolve on a handle (1). It can be manipulated in a number of ways and adapts both to play and to serious educational purpose. In broad educational mode the device is an exploration tool and toy where children can develop skills and play invented games or invent their own. In its main educational use, the device is a mathematics exploration tool and toy; is of a construction which makes it compatible with the decimal system of number among others; and in particular provides a visual-kinaesthetic method for the teaching/learning/understanding/exploration of mathematics.
1. An educational device comprising a holder or axle for a plurality of side by side revolvable arms or counters whereby in use the arms revolve by twirling the holder or by manipulating arms so that when placed on a support surface some arms lie on the left hand side of the holder while the remaining arms lie on the right hand side of the holder.
2. The device as claimed in
3. The device of
4. A device as claimed in any one of
5. Use of the device of any one of the above claims as a dice wherein the number of arms lying on a named side of the axle, normally the left side, represents the value of the throw of the dice.
6. Use of the device as claimed in any one of
7. Use of the device as claimed in any one of
8. A device substantially as claimed herein in any one of
9. The device as claimed in any of the above claims whereby in logical or mathematical terms when the device is supported on a surface the arms may have binary significance, i.e. each may be considered as switched on or off according to their position to the left or right of the axle or to their upwards/downwards position.
10. Use of the device of the present invention in accordance with
11. Any invention as described or claimed herein.
 This invention relates to an educational device. In particular, this invention relates to an educational device enabling the teaching of simple and complex mathematical concepts and operations to children using random and planned combinations of numbers and operations.
 Many teaching aids for children's education are known and used around the world. For the teaching of mathematics, devices representing numbers, such as building blocks, rods and abaci are used. However, many such devices render it difficult for children to understand manipulation of numbers and basic processes and operations in mathematics particularly regarding subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, ratios, percentages, place value and number bases, as well as basic concepts and operations in algebra and geometry.
 It would be desirable to provide an educational device, simple in construction and operation, that assists children in learning and understanding basic mathematical processes and operations.
 It is an object of the present invention to address the foregoing problems or at least to provide the public with a useful choice.
 Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only.
 According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided an education device comprising a holder or axle for a plurality of side by side revolvable arms whereby in use the arms rotate by twirling the holder or by manipulating arms so that, when placed on a support surface, some arms lie on the left hand side of the axle while the remaining arms lie on the right hand side of the axle.
 It will be appreciated that the device can be used for various games and to develop a variety of cognitive and dexterity skills while also being a type of dice and/or abacus. When used as an abacus the device shows patterns which can relate to numbers, enabling people to see or determine relationships in the patterns and between the numbers they may represent.
 Provision is made for parts to be added to or removed from the device to make it an abacus or dice of varying numeric value or pattern, e.g. to be a ‘6-arm abacus’ or an ‘8-arm abacus’ or a ‘dice of 6’ or a ‘dice of 10’. Provision is also made for coding of the parts, e.g. by arms of different colour, size, shape or imprint, again to provide abaci or dice of varying numeric or visual or spatial pattern.
 In this invention the counters or balls of the traditional abacus become arms or counters or balls which are attached to or may be placed on an axle in such a way that they rotate. The shape of the arms or balls or counters is immaterial. Indeed the arms themselves can serve as balls or counters and ‘arms’ is used hereafter to refer to all of these. It will be appreciated that the use of the term ‘arms’ includes any device capable of revolving about the axle.
 Arms may be placed, e.g. snapped, on the abacus or removed from it for a variety of purposes. They may be held in place by a handle at one end of the axle and a stopper or a second handle at the other end and/or by containing or guiding devices dispersed on the axle.
 Arms may be without special markings or may be marked or distinguished or coded to denote numerical values such as 5 or 10 or composite values such as 5×3 or 6−2. The information which an arm reveals may have different significance according to imprint, instructions or rules, e.g. depending on whether the arm lies to the left of the axle or to the right (see Best Modes below regarding use of the device of the present invention). The information may be an integral part of the arm or affixed to it or to the axle, e.g. by a sticker.
 In this invention the endings of the axle of the device may be designed to fit the one with the other so that any number of the devices may be joined together and make a new device of more complex structure. The means by which one device is attached to another is immaterial.
 In one preferred form the device is more particularly designed as a play thing associated with games and skills.
 In a second preferred form the device is more particularly designed for educational purposes as both a type of abacus and/or dice. That is, it provides means of understanding and operating mathematical processes such as counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, working with fractions, decimals, ratios, percentages. In this form and congruent with the decimal number system it may, for example be provided with 10 detachable arms each having a value of ‘1’ or such other number as may be preferred. This format provides for different sizes of dice and abaci according to how many arms are attached during use. For example, with 10 arms attached it may be a ‘dice of 10’ or a ‘10-arm abacus’ while with 6 arms attached it may be a dice or abacus of 6.
 In a third preferred form the device is more particularly designed for play and display purposes in the dark. Its revolving arms may be luminescent and/or hold bulbs of various colours supplied with electricity (however generated) and switches. Alternatively, light may issue from sources in the handle and/or axle. A light display may be provided using a light source in the holder with optic fibres extending from the source along the hollow rod to the counters.
 Arms may be attached to the axle in a variety of ways. In a preferred form they may be clipped onto and removed from an axle which may have means of keeping arms from touching each other. However, any suitable means for attaching the arms to the axle may be used as long as the arms are able to revolve about same. The arms may be plain or in ornamented form. Ornamentation is not limited to colouring. For example, the arms may be designed to produce noise, music, light. They may be coded, e.g. with numbers to give any desired numerical value to the arm.
 Devices may be provided with a storage bag or an accessory such as a ‘holster’ or belt which may be attached to the person of the user. Provision is also made for spare arms to be stored separately, as in a small bag.
 Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description which is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view of a 10-counter device showing ‘3 and 7’ as its abacus or number pattern and ‘3’, the number of counters to the left, as its dice value.
FIG. 2 is a side view of a 10-counter device with 4 counters removed and leaving a ‘6-arm abacus’ with a ‘3 and 3’ number pattern, or a ‘dice of 6’ with a value (left side) of ‘3’.
FIG. 3 is a side view of a 10-counter device showing an abacus pattern of ‘7 and 3’ and a dice value of ‘7’.
FIG. 4 shows a side view of a 7-arm play or games device and details the design of a clip.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a 7-arm derivation designed for play, game, and dice use and shows an axle ending 7 and an axle ending 8 which would allow two or more of the devices to be joined end to end.
FIG. 6 shows ‘visual number’ patterns from a 4-arm abacus exemplifying an ‘addition’ or ‘conservation of number’ model, i.e. the patterns which make four.
FIG. 7 shows two steps in the use of the device in ‘subtraction’ mode, such that in the second step when one arm has been swung to the right (subtracted) three can be seen to be ‘left’, i.e. 4−1=3.
FIG. 8 shows the device in a sample multiplication/division application. Specifically, in visual number, it shows that 5×2=10 and that 10÷2=5.
FIG. 9 shows diagrams of some shape, space and symmetry patterns with abaci of different size, i.e. relating to ‘geometry’ mode.
FIG. 10 exemplifies an ‘algebra’ mode with various patterning of balls of the same and different colour.
FIG. 11 shows the device in ‘binary numeration’ mode.
FIG. 12 shows how devices may be joined to increase their range of use or specifically shows how children could visually demonstrate the improper fraction one and 3 quarters.
 In the drawings moulded handle 1 and rod or axle 2 and optional secondary handle 4 provide a framework to support arms 3. Arms 3 are free to rotate on the rod 2. In FIG. 4 the ball 5 and clip 6 are integral parts of the moulded arm 3.
 When the device is manipulated in use, the arms 3 can be made to rotate in clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion. This becomes the basis for skills which players can develop. Equally importantly, the device may be twirled, so that the arms 3 revolve in a relatively jumbled or random way in the air before being brought down upon a flat surface such as a table or pad or cushion (not shown). Some arms 3 will lie to the left of the axle 2 and some to the right. The sum of the arms 3 to the left and right will always equal the total number of arms 3 on the device. This forms the basis for many educational applications and for a wide variety of games and is a key feature of the abacus.
 An example of educational use is with the learning of basic addition number facts. For facts which add to four for example, four arms 3 are placed on the device. This is shown in FIG. 6. By a count of arms to the left and right of the axle it can be demonstrated that 4+0, 3+1, 2+2, 1+3 and 0+4 all equal 4. Children can ‘discover’ all such patterns. They can record them, e.g. in stylised drawings. They can write them as equations and express them as ‘number stories’. In this and other examples, children are helped by the clear ‘visual number’ patterns which the device provides.
 Another example of educational use is with understanding subtraction and learning basic subtraction facts. For example, as shown in FIG. 7, when 4 arms are placed first to the left, representing any 4 objects, then when one is swung over to the right, 3 are left. Children thus make discoveries such that 4−1=3 and make number stories on this basis.
 Another example of educational use is with understanding multiplication and division and learning basic multiplication and division number facts. For example, children may make discoveries or engage in operations as in FIG. 8 where they find that 5 twos make 10 or that 10 can be divided into 5 equal parts.
 Other examples of educational use are in geometry where children are helped to explore shape and space. Visual number patterns such as are shown in FIG. 9 may be used with the device in ‘still’ or in ‘swinging’ mode to help develop concepts like ‘below, top, middle, bottom, next to, beside; forwards, backwards, over, towards, away from’. They may also explore symmetry by creating or talking about symmetrical and repeating patterns.
 Other examples of educational use are in algebra. Some of these are shown in FIG. 10. The first two of the 6 diagrams show how patterns may be made with arm-endings of the same and different colours. The third pattern from the top relates conceptually to the division of 10 by 4 and shows a quotient of 2 and remainder of 2. The fourth relates to three 2s plus 1 making 7, or 7 divided into 2s. The fifth provides a schema for building a two-times table, with each of the 10 ‘units’ being seen by children not as ‘ones’ but as ‘twos’ by focusing on the shape of the arms above the ball ending. The last diagram shows how each arm or ball may be given a value of say 10, so that the 10-times table is shown or may be derived.
 Another example of educational use is with binary numeration. In FIG. 11 and reading from the right, the arms may be given values of 20, 21, 22, and so on—equating to 1, 2, 4 and so on in decimal. When the arms are in a downward position, as in the top example, they are considered ‘off’ and have only potential numerical value. When rotated up the arms are ‘on’ and their value is actualised. Thus the middle example of FIG. 11 has 2 arms ‘on’ and their value is 1+2, i.e. totals 3. The lower example has arms ‘on’ to the value (from the right) of 0+2+0+0+16+32, i.e. 50. This usage sets children down the path of discovering the binary manner by which computers handle numbers
 Similar and other procedures/models, using the device of the present invention, allow other addition, subtraction, multiplication and division number facts or combinations to be experienced and learned, likewise work with fractions, decimals, ratios and percentages as well as applications in geometry, algebra and statistics.
 Mathematical use of the device is not restricted to working with a single device. FIGS. 12 and 13, for example, shows how children might put 2 four-arm devices together side by side or join them end to end to make a visual representation of the improper fraction 1 and three quarters.
 It can accordingly be seen, with reference to the attached self-explanatory drawings, that the educational device of the present invention enables opportunities wide ranging in nature. It provides an innovative means of educating children in many aspect of Number, Algebra, Geometry and Statistics in an enjoyable fulfilling hands-on exploratory manner.
 Aspects of the present invention have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof.