Monday, February 8, 2010

We interrupt this tax programming to bring you a shameless brag from a proud great-grandmother

I'm only 56. I was well into my 30s when first child was born. How could I be a great-grandmother already?

Read on for more details....

A decade ago, my 14-year-old daughter came home from a summer math program with stars in her eyes about the wonderful mathematical community of kindred spirits she had encountered there. Some of the friends she had met were returning home to places like the Bay Area and Boston area, which had vibrant and thriving local mathematical circles that brought students together during the remainder of the year.

But, sadly, there was nothing like the Bay Area Math Circle or the Boston Math Circle in our area.

But we didn't give up. We reached out to other students and, with the support of RPI computer science professor Mukkai Krishnamoorthy, fondly known as "Prof. Moorthy," we formed our very own Albany Area Math Circle.

It started in 2001 with just my 14-year-old daughter Alison and his 13-year-old son Raju and it has now grown to about 30 high school students who meet weekly on Friday nights to collaborate on extreme mathematics together!

An important part of our community culture is the idea that you can learn a lot more by sharing your own mathematical understanding with others, so we encourage our high school students to mentor and coach younger students, and we now have about 40 students in our thriving middle school math circles as well. I consider those middle school students to be my mathematical grandchildren or even mathematical great-grandchildren because their coaches are high school students whom I have mentored and/or who my daughters mentored.

A week ago, the local Capital District Chapter of the NY Society of Professional Engineers sponsored their annual MATHCOUNTS competition at GE Global Research, which brought together 150 students from 22 middle schools. I am proud to say that the top 20 individuals and the top 8 teams at the contest were all mentored by high school student coaches who are members of our Albany Area Math Circle!

The first and second place teams as well as the first place individuals in the countdown and written competitions were coached by high school seniors Dave Bieber and Anagha Tolpadi respectively. Since my daughter Alison coached Dave and Anagha when they were in middle school, that makes Dave and Anagha my mathematical grandchildren and the middle school students that Dave and Anagha coach are my mathematical great-grandchildren! The other teams were coached by students I have mentored myself, so their students are my mathematical grandchildren.

Here are two photos of my mathematical great-grandchildren Cecilia Holodak of Van Antwerp Middle School and Aniket Tolpadi of Iroquois Middle School, shown with a GE scientist presenting their awards for winning the Countdown and Written Rounds, respectively.

For those interested in more proud-math-grandma photos and more details, see our Albany Area Math Circle blog here.

The two children who started it all, my daughter Alison and Moorthy's son Raju, have grown up and moved away, but Professor Moorthy and I still enjoy spending our Friday evenings working with the mathematical community the two of them inspired us to create.

It pleases us even more that Alison and Raju continue to enjoy working with younger students--Alison leads problem solving sessions at the brand new Princeton Math Circle (started up by 14-year-old Bianca Ray Avalini) and Raju teaches in a math enrichment program in Somerville, Massachusetts.

We now return you to our regular tax programming.

1 comment:

  1. Mary,

    Sounds like you're really make a difference.

    Congratulations, granny! Keep up the good work.