Hiya! It’s Nicole!
Some of the (few) readers of this blog may be wondering – why are you in math club? How did you know that this was what you were passionate about?
I figured out that I loved math this past summer. It took a long time, I know! I had liked math through elementary and middle school, mostly because it was easy for me. I liked how logical it was – there were systems and orders and ways to proceed that were commonly accepted, though you could deviate slightly. The fact that everything compounded on everything else was nice too – it made things simple to understand, and the progression made sense. There weren’t many times then that I asked, “Why are we learning this?”
What I really needed was a challenge. This past summer I took a Geometry course in six weeks. It was pretty crazy! But with that craziness came a lot of fun – fun I hadn’t had before in math. Maybe it was the whirling circles and tangents and variables in my head, but something stuck and I realized – I love this. I went into Algebra 2, then placed out of it into Precalculus. For a little while it was daunting, but the insurmountable pile of information and things to explore soon became exciting, not overwhelming.
Derek presented about his idea for a math club in Assembly. I didn’t immediately know that I wanted to do it, but the more I thought about it, the better it seemed. Then, the first meeting, the second, several Assembly presentations and a Project Week later, and I’m here!
Everyone has a story for what they’re passionate about – what’s yours?
The very first activity our math club did was a Desmos challenge. Desmos is an online graphing calculator, which we use in our math classes. Our teachers introduced it to us, and we found it very easy to use, and can create very beautiful graphs, sometimes accidentally. Since we have many artists in Putney, in November, immediately after the math club is formed, we came up with this idea, and presented to the school “The Desmos Challenge”. It was a simple competition, that whoever makes the most beautiful desmos graph wins a prize. It had effects we did not anticipate, such as it inspired math teachers to have their students make beautiful graphs for homework. In January, the challenge ended with Erin as winner, winning a Sudoku keychain.
“Flower” by Erin
Derek’s last post reminded me of this article, which my mom sent on to me several months ago. We are so accustomed to hearing people say, “I’m just not a math person,” and while that may be true, there are many variables in the way of that declaration that so many people make without thinking. This article is fascinating, and worth a read if you have the time.
There’s one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t
Enjoy! (Though I would not advise going on rants at people who say, “I’m not a math person” after reading this article, as that strategy is not especially effective for getting those people to actually like math. I’d try the Mandelbrot set instead.)
When I talked to my friends about math, I found that some of them believe that you need a different kind of brain to be good at math. But this isn’t what I was told when I grew up in China. People do not believe in talent or gift, but in endeavors. If someone is better at math than you, it is only because that person spends more time practicing it, and you need to spend even more time to catch up. “You have to practice every day, or your brain would rust,” says our math teacher.
When I proposed a math club in Putney, I have both views in mind. Math is not only about practice, it is a joy. I hope that math-lovers can enjoy math together. At the same time, more people can get interested in math.
This is how the math club started at Putney.