Find the resources you need for this season's math competitions:

Permission to Play

How do you raise kids who love math?  Most kids are curious and want to find out new things.  They begin exploring their world from the moment they have mobility and learn problem-solving techniques along the way.  The joy of childhood is play and play is integral to learning about your world.  Creating the mathletes of tomorrow means playing math games with young kids today.  Unfortunately, once kids start elementary school, the play component of math goes away.  Worksheets are the norm and in many cases, kids are given a calculator along with their workbook.  The progression from seeing math as a one-to-one correspondence, e.g. I have 1 cookie, to seeing math as an abstraction, e.g. 3x + 1 = 5, is the same kind of progression ancient civilizations discovered.  Why not make this progression more relevant to their world and more exciting?  With the advent of tablets and computer games, the play component is coming back, but there are other ways to play that don't involve staring at a screen.  Learning about ancient civilizations and their stories is a fun way to learn math.  Discover the story of zero, learn to multiply in ancient Egyptian, or explore the Babylonian base 60 number system! 

Career mathematicians are individuals who are still playing with math.  If you, as a parent or educator, are having fun with the process, your students will as well.  No matter what your age, interesting problems and approaches ignite curiosity and instill wonder.  Give yourself "permission to play" and break the cycle of worksheets, rote learning, and rubrics.

AwesomeMath Student of the Month

We are pleased to honor, Vinjai Vale as our Student of the Month.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a homeschooled 8th grader who is also a part-time student at the Stanford Online High School. I am from Plano, Texas.  I’m interested in piano, robotics, history, science, and – of course – mathematics.

What competitions or events have you participated in?
I have competed in the AMC 8 (perfect score last year), and I am a 2-time USAJMO qualifier.  I have also competed in the ARML and Mandelbrot (2nd place in the Spruce region last year with a near-perfect score).  Over the summer, I participated in the 2013 PMWC (Primary Mathematics World Contest) along with three other seventh graders.  I got a perfect score individually and helped the team become World Champions.  I’ve also competed in robotics competitions, like BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) and FLL (First Lego League).  In 2012, the FLL team, which I captained, made it all the way up to the World Festival, which accommodated only 80 out of more than 20,000 teams from 40+ countries.

What are your proudest accomplishments?
So far, my proudest accomplishment is being a 2013 Caroline D. Bradley Scholar.  Also, Adithya Ganesh (an AwesomeMath teacher) and I published a paper together in an international conference outlining a novel finger prosthetic control system which we invented.  We are also open-sourcing our work online to create an environment where others can build upon it.  We believe it has the potential to usher in a new class of prosthetic solutions that are inexpensive and intuitive.  We are in the running to give a TEDxKids talk about our project. Please check out this link and cast your vote for us before the 20th:

It was a great satisfaction when KidsTeachKids, a non-profit free math tutoring program that I organize with the help of volunteer tutors, reached the goal of logging 100 community service hours in the 2012-13 school year.  Some of KidsTeachKids’s key volunteers are also AwesomeMath participants, including Adrian Andreescu, Adam Cordeiro, and Milena Djordjevic-Kisačanin.

How has AwesomeMath helped you?
A goal which I have had for many years is to make it to the IMO.  The level 2 and 3 classes at AwesomeMath have significantly boosted me in my journey both this summer and in 2012.  Also, the problem-solving skills which I gained at AwesomeMath have been extremely helpful in other areas of my life.  By learning to write solutions to problems, I have developed my skills in articulating my ideas – which was extremely helpful when I volunteered with KidsTeachKids.  By learning to focus for four-and-a-half hours on three problems, I have been able to maintain a high level of focus when working on academic or extracurricular endeavors for long stretches of time.
A great example of these skills coming into play is the prosthetic invention mentioned earlier.  We are currently working on a second follow-up paper, and it contains some intense statistics.  I would not have been able to write this paper, let alone work on the project, if it weren’t for problem-solving and focus skills which I gained through contest math.

Another amazing aspect of AwesomeMath is the one-of-a-kind set of peers and instructors available.  Each time I go to an AwesomeMath camp, I look forward to not only learning great mathematics, but also meeting old teachers and friends, as well as meeting new ones.  I enjoy discussing math with my friends, and often we end up chatting and contemplating about how to best solve one of Cosmin’s geometry problems while eating dinner.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to study multiple fields in college, and establish an interdisciplinary lab or a company.  Also, I’m sure that the problem-solving skills which I gained from AwesomeMath are going to be an integral part of all of my future endeavors.

Mathletics Challenge

Problems from the Book

Resource Spotlight

Starting with the first round of USAMTS (USA Mathematial Talent Search) due on October 15 and culminating with the IMO (International Mathematics Olympiad) in July, 2014, the season of math competitions is right around the corner.  Are you prepared?  Do you have the resources to help you excel?   With over 30 years of experience teaching, coaching, and mentoring the brightest mathematical minds of our age, Dr. Andreescu's books are essential for every math enthusiast's library.  Here are just a few highlights from his distinguished career:
  • Authored, co-authored, and edited more than 40 math books and publications
  • Head coach and leader of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) for 8 years
  • Director of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA) American Mathematics Competitions for 5 years
  • Has contributed hundreds of problems to various math competitions including up to and including the IMO
  • Co-founder of the Purple Comet! Math Meet, the first international team based math competition
  • Founder and Director of AwesomeMath, an organization that provides enriching experiences in mathematics to intellectually curious learners

Following is a chart of important dates and resources which will enrich the mathlete's competition experience:
Date Competition Resource
October 15, 2013
Round 1
USAMTS Mathematical Olympiad Challenges,
Mathematical Olympiad Treasures,
Mathematical Reflections - all volumes
November 18, 2013
Round 2
USAMTS Mathematical Olympiad Challenges,
Mathematical Olympiad Treasures,
Mathematical Reflections - all volumes
November 19, 2013 AMC 8 Purple Comet! Math Meet:  All Ten Years, 105 Algebra Problems
December 7, 2013 Putnam Problems from the Book, Straight from the Book, Putnam and Beyond
January 6, 2014
Round 3
USAMTS Mathematical Olympiad Challenges,
Mathematical Olympiad Treasures,
Mathematical Reflections - all volumes
10A:  February 4, 2014
10B:  February 19, 2014
AMC 10 105 Algebra Problems, 106 Geometry Problems, 107 Geometry Problems,108 Algebra Problems (coming soon)
12A:  February 4, 2014
12B:  February 19, 2014
AMC 12 Mathematical Reflections - all volumes, 105 Algebra Problems, 106 Geometry Problems, 107 Geometry Problems,108 Algebra Problems (coming soon)
AIME I:  March 13, 2014
AIME II: March 26, 2014
AIME Purple Comet! Math Meet: All Ten
Years, Mathematical Reflections - all
April 1-10, 2014 Purple Comet! Math Meet Purple Comet! Math Meet:  All Ten Years
April 29-30, 2014 USAMO Problems from the Book, Straight from the Book, Topics in Functional Equations, Math Olympiad Challenges, Math Olympiad Treasures
July 2014 IMO (South Africa) Math Olympiad Challenges,
Mathematical Olympiad Treasures,
Mathematical Reflections - all volumes

Getting to Know You...Robert Tung

1) Tell us your background and interests.
Obviously, math has always been an interest of mine. It’s been my favorite school subject since I was a little kid, and my interest has only grown. Though I was always learning ahead, it wasn’t until middle school that I began pursuing competition math and similar extracurricular programs. To this day, math competitions and programs have been the basis of my academic pursuits. However, beyond my studies, I’ve also found new ways to enjoy math, including teaching and original research (see question 3 below). I also find many other scientific fields, such as biology and physics, very interesting, and may look into them in the future.

Other than math, I also particularly enjoy music. Like many of my peers, I learned piano as a kid. I had actually been really excited to begin learning, but after a couple years, I found the competitive environment discouraging. Still, I love the instrument and I play piano in my free time. I also learned to play the Saxophone in middle school, and was a part of the school band for 6 years. Aside from class and marching band, I found jazz particularly enjoyable, and joined the school jazz band for 4 years. Similarly, I still play to this day and ended up buying the saxophone that I rented for years. Finally, I recently began learning guitar and hope to improve by teaching myself. Music has always been enjoyable for me, and is both a pastime and a passion. Though I am not considering a career in music, I’ll probably still be playing instruments when I get older.

2) What are your thoughts on math education?
I’ve always loved math, and for those who do, the school curriculum can be very limited. As such, finding programs that help with a further pursuit of the subject can be very useful. AwesomeMath specifically is well known for its success. The rigorous courses can be highly beneficial to students hoping to pursue competition math and even for those who aren’t. Though I have not specifically participated in AwesomeMath Year-Round, I have also heard great things about it. There are many ways for students to get involved and develop their own passion for mathematics, from independent study to online courses, and AwesomeMath is definitely a very unique and beneficial opportunity.

3) What are you working on currently?
I began conducting research last summer with the Honors Summer Math Camp program at Texas State University. Along with partners George Qi and Vinciane Chen, and working under Dr. Qiang Zhao, we conducted Statistics research, and created a novel algorithm for estimating survival functions that was proved to be more accurate than all previous, when applied to the specific applications that it was meant for. These applications can be extended to many fields but we decided to focus on epidemiology, specifically testing our data and gearing our simulations toward STD clinical data that was given to us. This coming year, I will once again be conducting original Statistics research, this time under Dr. Alex White with a new group. Though I’ve always loved math, research is uniquely interesting in that it allows for completely original ideas and the application of the concepts I’ve learned.

Teaching math has provided me a way to enjoy the subject on a different level.  Students of elementary and middle school age are welcome to join MathStar, the non-profit math club I co-founded with Kevin Chang, and will be carrying on by myself in the upcoming year. Other than that, I’ve been a teaching assistant at a local Chinese school as well as at our very own AwesomeMath. Teaching allows me to share my passion for mathematics and get students interested in it. It’s especially rewarding when a student’s face lights up upon understanding a concept, or when a student finds the subject interesting enough to ask about further experiences or knowledge that I may not have even brought up in the classroom. In any form, math is very rewarding and I intend to pursue it in the future.

4) Will you pursue a career in math?
Math is extremely applicable to many future careers. Though I myself don’t intend to pursue pure theoretical mathematics as a career, it can be very rewarding. On the other hand, many fields require a substantial basis in mathematics, and I intend to study mathematics in college along with whatever field I plan to apply it to. Furthermore, I have always found math, and its many applications to be really interesting. Any scientific pursuit will incorporate mathematics, and even some artistic pursuits. The possibilities are endless and it can be used no matter what your passion is.
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