American Go E-Journal

Northwestern University Exploring Go and Math

Tuesday January 31, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.56.26 PMNorthwestern University in Illinois offered a new course on go last semester. The course was designed to help students build number sense, understand math concepts, and practice mathematical thinking, and was offered through the Center for Talent Development. The course evolved from a joint research project set up in November, 2015, by Xinming Guo, founder of Go and Math Academy, and David Uttal, a professor of Psychology and Education at Northwestern University. Guo has been advocating go for years, integrating the game as a math manipulative in the classroom. Each year thousands of students in Chicago and its suburbs have opportunities to make their first contact with go. After a demonstration of go and its connections to math education, Professor Uttal suggested Guo develop a course on go and math for the CTD program at Northwestern University. The new course was offered to students for the first time this past fall.

Professor Uttal leads a research laboratory of undergraduate, graduate students, and post-docs investigating spatial cognition and STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) education. With the help of Professor Uttal and his lab, the research now focuses not only on go and elementary math education, but also on go and spatial thinking. The project team is comprised of Professor Uttal, his doctoral student Yanning Yu, and Guo. “Once we have more research results, we are hopeful that a link can be established between go and fundamental cognitive skills of human beings,” says Guo.

“The course and research have generated rich data so far. Doctoral student Yu and another research assistant, who recorded the entire 8-week course, have made many surprising discoveries after just a preliminary analysis,” says Guo. Deeper analysis is continuing and will provide more supporting materials for the 2nd phase of the research. “Go is a gold mine for future researches, no, a diamond mine,” said Professor Uttal.

Guo shared his vision of bringing go to every school in his keynote speech at the US Go Congress in 2015. He continues to develop elementary go and math curricula to help students build solid math foundations, and also runs professional development seminars for teachers. “I hope that our research on the relationship between go and math can also make contributions to the history of go in the whole world,” said Guo. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Xinming Guo: Professor Uttal (l) and Xinming Guo (r) with the Northwestern CTD Catalog, fall 2016, which lists their go course under the math category.