Doodling Stars

I often cite this video from Vi Hart as the reason I do what I do.

Before I knew the name Martin Gardner and long before I knew about Math Circles, I was teaching ideas from Vi Hart to homeschool kids who got together for a once-a-week class centered around Math Olympiad (MOEMS) contests.

Her videos are dense and fast, but she’s a wonderful artist showing some awesome mathematics in a delightfully quirky way.

Nim Video Series

This week I recorded and posted my first ever video lessons. My first project was a series on Nim, a game that I’ve been interested in for the past couple of years. You can check it out here.

I have a couple of ideas for other videos to make, but I’d love to hear some requests/suggestions! I’m hoping to get a new one up every couple of weeks, but we’ll see how it goes.


On Enrichment

When it comes to math, I’ve been describing the work I do as enrichment for some time now. My idea of teaching math is to focus on thought process and problem solving, rather than specific content. I like playing Nim and doodling stars more than practicing algorithms.

I use this material as a way to show how fun the creative side of mathematics is. In the process of playing with these ideas, students learn about all sorts of things including number sense, spatial reasoning, and if/then thinking. These ideas are challenging and engaging for students at any level, regardless of their strength or passion for math. The benefits for advanced students are obvious, but this approach is particularly important for kids who say they “hate math,” as it challenges their ideas of what “math” really is. Playing catch-up by focusing on skills will only go so far with these students who think they don’t like math.