随着各个学校秋季学期相继开启， 正式宣告暑假结束。这个非比平常的夏天，Mequon-Thiesnville学区的三位华裔青少年正式成立了Math Art Online。他们通过《密城时报》推出了首期免费数学夏令营招募广告。报名人数当天爆满，相信不少人对此还记忆犹新。夏令营结束，效果如何？华裔青少年还有什么想法？为此，本报记者特别采访了他们。
•What inspired you to start Math Art Online? What do you hope to accomplish by establishing it?
你们为什么想起成立Math Art Online呢？成立这个的目的是什么？
The three of us have a long history as friends and math enthusiasts. The closure of school and camps due to COVID-19 gave us an incentive to try something like math lectures for kids. Since we enjoy doing math and want more students to love math, we decided we’d do some online tutoring. Our idea of math differs from “school math” since we want to teach kids problem solving skills that can be applied anywhere in STEM and in life.
The website was established as a means of communication with those who are interested. We wanted to create a place where you could find everything you needed to know about us and our lectures without having to search for everything individually.
•What was your purpose or motivation by teaching these classes? What did you like about teaching young kids math?
We have been learning math by ourselves and from the school district for around 10 years now. We feel that the school districts are not doing enough to properly teach kids problem solving. All they prepare you for is to pass a test or get an A, but they neglect the truly useful parts of math that you can carry with you beyond high school and college. We want to give kids a chance to see that math is more than just memorizing equations.
We believe that problem-solving is an essential skill for students to learn and that it is not accentuated enough in school. We want to prepare our students to succeed and make a positive impact in the world. Interacting with students during the summer lectures was extremely fun for us and we hope the fall and winter lectures are just as rewarding.
•What do you think are your qualifications to be tutors? What kind of competitions did you participate in? How did you do in those competitions? 作为授课老师，你们都具备哪些资历？参加过哪些数学比赛，成绩如何？
All three of us have participated in MATHCOUNTS, AMC 8, AMC 10/12, and other math competitions. In middle school, we were the 5th ranked team in the state MATHCOUNTS competition, and Eric was the 9th ranked individual in Wisconsin. In high school, we all did very well on the AMC 10/12 and Eric advanced to the AIME (which only accepts the top 2.5% of all AMC 10 scorers). Giana is a senior who has aced AP Calculus BC, earning a 5 on the exam, and she is currently taking an independent study for Multivariable Calculus. Eric and Jonathan are well on their way to doing so as well. Jonathan has also competed in competitions such as the MUHS Fall Meet in which he placed 3rd individually. He also recently competed in MATHCOUNTS state and placed 3rd for teams.
We also have around four years of experience teaching math to each other and our friends frequently before the pandemic. We have walked through countless MATHCOUNTS and AMC problems over the years and know how to find the key points of each problem.
•I heard much positive feedback from kids and their parents during this summer session. What did you like about this session, and anything to improve next time?
We liked the fact that we were able to get through so much content within two weeks. The students were very cooperative and paid attention throughout the lectures. However, we noticed that there was a large difference in skill as some students were new to competition math while others were already quite experienced. That’s why we decided to make two classes this time, one for the students learning fundamentals, and another for more advanced students. Another difficulty we noticed was that students were quite exhausted after the 2-hour lectures. Even with breaks in between, two hours is a long time, even for us. That’s why we reduced the time to 1 hour per lecture. By this arrangement, we can ensure that students have enough time for school activities without getting bogged down by the length of the lectures.
•How do you compare your Math Art Online program to other similar programs, such as Kumon, Khan Academy, or Art of Problem Solving?
与其它一些组织如Kumon, Khan Academy, AoPS的数学课比较，你们Math Art Online有什么特色？
Kumon and Khan academy are great resources, but they still mainly focus on “school math”. They teach you many important technical skills, but their focus is not on problem solving. Art of Problem Solving is where we learned most of our problem-solving skills. We highly recommend reading their books if you are interested. The main difference between Math Art Online and Art of Problem Solving is that we find that simply reading the solutions to problems is often not enough to grasp the concepts and the thinking process behind the solution. We will be walking through the problems verbally and emphasizing how we find the way to use known concepts to solve a new problem. We will also show students how to apply the skills of one problem to similar problems.
•Are you going to continue hosting zoom classes for this coming school year? What’s your plan?
Our Fall and Winter Lectures will last from September 2020 to February 2021. Since we are students, our schedules continuously change. We will probably take a break during spring and return to free lectures during the summer. We really enjoy teaching math and problem-solving skills to other kids, so we will find every opportunity to continue Math Art Online.
•What will be the differences between this fall session and the summer session?
The main difference is the two separated classes. This allows us to teach with more efficiency since our students within each class will have more similar skill levels. Also, due to our busy school schedules, we will be holding one lesson every two weeks for each class. In between lessons, students will receive practice problems on our discord server. We will help in solving those practice problems and answer relevant math questions.
Instead of focusing on subjects individually, we will focus on problem solving tools that are useful in solving difficult math problems in school and math competitions. For this reason, we will mainly be using AMC 8 problems and some MATHCOUNTS problems as examples during class. We will show many ways to solve these problems and how to use our tools to solve them quickly and efficiently. If you want a more in-depth view of what we will be doing this year, please attend our free lecture on the evening of September 16.
•You are planning to donate your profits. What kind of organization do you plan to donate and what motivates you to do that?
We plan to donate our profits towards PPE for the doctors and nurses who are fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. Everyone’s lives have been affected by this pandemic—the faster we can get over it, the better. We want to do our part, no matter how small, to help the doctors and nurses who protect and take care of us.
Author: Jocelyn Liao