Adventures with Mr. Math is a non-for-profit after-school math program based on the premise that all kids have a talent for math, but that talent is often lost in the minutia of mathematical techniques. We help kids to discover that math is an exciting adventure!
Those who watched “The Pirates of Caribbean” may remember Captain Jack telling Elizabeth when they are stuck on an uninhabited island: “a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.” This is the way I see math: “arithmetics and algebra and calculus, those are tools a mathematician needs… but what math really is… is freedom.”
A mathematician is a discoverer of distant worlds bound by nothing but his or her imagination. We get to explore the only realm which has no constraints of reality. Like Columbus, Magellan, and Neil Armstrong, a mathematician can go beyond the horizon to where no one has ever gone before. The reason mathematicians love math is not because it is an important science, though it certainly is, but because the world of math is incredibly beautiful. Math is not just a science, math is a game!
Unfortunately, the school system focuses mostly on the mechanics and tools of math rather on the beauty of it. Kids learn and repeat various techniques until they become proficient and … bored. While teaching math techniques is a necessary part, too often it kills the math spirit. Thus millions upon millions of adults do not understand math and are afraid of it. The truth is that a high percentage of kids are born with the talent to see and feel math, but that talent is lost in the minutia of mathematical techniques.
One of the most gifted mathematicians in the history was an Indian prodigy, Srinivasa Ramanujan. Even though Ramanujan had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to various areas of math. Numbers were not just mathematical objects to him – they were his friends. When his skills became apparent to the wider mathematical community, he began a famous partnership with the English mathematician G. H. Hardy. Upon Ramanujan’s death, Hardy wrote about his originality and lack of formal education “if he had been caught and tamed a little in his youth … he would have been less of a Ramanujuan and more of a European professor.”
The main goals of my program is to “wake up” the little Ramanujan in each child and lead them onto the path to the math world of incredible beauty!
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