To Infinity and Beyond is our cornerstone program that teaches students how to use analytical reasoning skills to solve difficult math problems and puzzles. Through games and math contests — where we participate as a team and support each other’s efforts — we help kids fall in love with math and create a foundation for future success! Our students also greatly enjoy winning numerous math contest prizes and awards for extra credit work.
The program is split into many levels and targets gifted students in Grades 2-8, though we admit some exceptional 1st graders. Each class meets weekly for 60 minutes from September through May, except during holiday breaks. Our sessions fall into four broad categories:
- Learn Analytical Reasoning Skills. During these sessions we teach various approaches to navigate complex mathematical problems and puzzles. Our program is largely orthogonal to the school curriculum. Even when we cover topics that overlap with the school curriculum, the focus is not on teaching the techniques but rather on the role they play in solving math puzzles using analytical reasoning skills. For instance, kids learn and practice long multiplication and division at school, while we use the hidden patterns in multiplication and division to solve cryptarithms.
- Explore the Mysteries of Math. During these sessions the kids investigate beautiful patterns in the world of numbers and shapes. Rather than learning math, the kids discover it for themselves with a bit of guidance from the teachers. This is a perfect way to sharpen math skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere. We also teach kids numerous “tricks”, which are really nothing but the ways to solve problems using deeper understanding of the relationships between mathematical objects, as well as the history of math and its role in understanding the universe.
- Review and Practice. During these sessions we try to spend as much time as possible working with kids in small groups on the problems that challenge them the most. At home, we encourage the kids to work on many extra credit worksheets. We keep track in our database of every problem that each student solves. This allows us over time to better understand strengths and weaknesses of each individual student. Then, during practice sessions, we review with each student the problems that they struggle with.
- Prepare and Compete in Math Contests. Kids love to participate in math contests. In math, as in sports, while the coaches understand that the practice time is most important, the kids want to play the games. We participate in numerous math competitions as a team. Kids learn to work together and support each other’s efforts. Of course, it helps that our teams are very successful and kids always win many prizes. Also, our students are usually successful in math competitions on their own school teams.