Nepohualtzintzin, Ancient Mathematics Method to Facilitate Learning on the Modern World

Interview with representatives of the Nepo Project from the University of Texas, San Antonio - Talking with Dr. Linda Prieto, Dr. Belinda Flores and Dr. Lorena Claeys


Dr. Linda Prieto, PhD

Today we will talk about new and old methods of education. Our guests talked to us from Stanford University and from the University of Texas in San Antonio. Among them, Dr. Belinda Flores, Department Chair, and Professor of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies  at University of San Antonio. We also received Dr. Lorena Claeys Executive Director of the Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE) also located at the University of Texas at San Antonio, both of them by video conference.  Here at the station, we welcomed Dr. Linda Prieto, also Ph.D., who just relocated to Palo Alto, and had been Assistant Professor The University of Texas at San Antonio for years, and part of the Nepohualtzitzin Project.

The specific topic of discussion today is the learning of an ancient method of understanding mathematics, Precolumbian tribes developed that for millennia and today can be re-used to advance and facilitate the comprehension of simple and complex concepts through a graphic and logic way.


Dr. Lorena Claeys, PhD

The Nepohualtzitzin project had proven that small kids in preschool could easily understand concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and even square-root with this method in a playful graphic way.

At the same time, college students for computer science had found their methods helpful in facilitating binary numbers concepts and applications. It can be used for any level of mathematics learning and its visualization.

Aztecs and Mayan people used Nepohualtzitzin in their life, from basic math to differential calculus and matrixes. It is known that they calculated and comprehended the behavior of planets, stars, seasons and calendars, and required mathematical knowledge for that. It was also used for construction calculus in many types of buildings, but also any application on everyday life.


Dr. Belinda B. Flores, PhD

Today,  Nepohualtzitzin is getting re-adjusted to help teacher and kids to get the wrap of concepts, as the auxiliary method of learning. It was noticed that for many teachers math was the topic they felt less confident, so the University of Texas started helping them with a modern application of this nation method. It was also tried on many after-school clubs for kids in elementary school, and it is in the world to apply it to a broader community. It has been already being tested in Mexico to teach kids. The University of Texas is also developing online and mobile digital application of the ancient Precolumbian abacus.

Nepohualtzinzin abacus

Examples of Nepohualtzintzin Abacus

Among the current purposes for the project on the UTSA, the  are Nepohualtzintzin project aims to:

  • Broadens students’ mathematics reasoning ability;
  • Provide a structure where learning is anchored to socio-cultural practices and language;
  • Transform the student from one who acquires knowledge into one with an ability to learn and be capable of continually building and deepening his/her intellectual capacity;
  • Promote designed strategies for learning how to live in communal harmony.

I hope you enjoy the project and remember to leave your comments.

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