Any interest in the Integirls program?

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Do you want to be an “involved parent”? I guess at least, we don’t want our kids watching ASMR on youtube all day… or for that matter, watching YouTube shorts, TikTok, Instagram and doing Snapchat? And may I add roblox, adopt me, Minecraft, and Fornite 🙁

Sorry this is the only games I know my girls do these days (except Fornite?) I am not against the social media and mobile games, for that matter, I think some exposure to those are okay. I just think both myself and my kids are wasting way too much time on iPhone (me) / iPads (them), this is not too surprising considering the pandemic and personally I spent way too much time on Twitter and WeChat (think WeChat is a combination of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and PayPal / Venmo, mainly in Chinese).

Anyway, enough Ted Talk from me. Integirls Math (math competition) is something I was working with my daughter Serenity (6th grader), math or other stem problems that’s a bit interesting. For example, since I mentioned Ted Talk here, I recall recently Serenity asked me this locker problem when I was driving. This is a bit intimidating problem at first look. But it was similar to some of the problems that I worked when I was learning computer programming, when I was in middle school (or high school? Sorry I forgot the exact timing), and it’s similar to some of the coding problem that I asked candidates during technical interview in recent years. Full disclosure: I am a software engineer with about 20 years of software development experience.

I understand Math sounds hard or may not be interesting to some

As parents I encourage my daughter to learn more math, more STEM, and more coding if possible. But at the same time, I do understand in our Ladue school, there are many talented kids and sometimes it could be a bit intimidating to participating the math club, the science club etc. This is probably applicable to my daughter (her introvert personality), as well as being a girl. I recall at the beginning of this school year, she was invited to join a team for math competition, and she does not want to do it. The reason: “I don’t like math“. Personally I think she probably does not like competition. I am okay with that. But I don’t want to leave her an impression that “my math is not that good”, or something along those lines. I think looking purely from the grade level, her math is very good.

What I like to see

No, I don’t expect her to solve the locker riddle in the TedEdu. Or some of the “math / algorithm” problems I collected in this file (some day I will organize it better 🙂 But I want to work with her, and show her some of problems in the InteGirls is doable at her level. “Empowering girls in STEM” is my goal, to be more specific, my selfish goal is empower my daughter in STEM.

How I plan to do it

Again I will work with Serenity, and potentially some of her friends. Here is the pdf file location for one set of sample problems (how I get here: I click on “Winter 2021 Math Contest” from the home page, from there, I scroll down, click on the Solutions – MS folder, it leads me to the google drive folder that has the PDF problem (and solution). I will try to work on a few problems (say 5) in 30 mins to 45 mins session. And ideally I want to make sure the kids know how to approach a problem. Teaching is not my strength, but I feel comfortable with English and middle school math (numbers, algebra, geometry etc.).

Are you going to form a team and compete?

I don’t know. But again my goal is first to practice then we can mutually decide if it’s something we can do. Again from the web page, score card, I saw some familiar names. I am not keen on winning a certain place, but if the girls are getting more confident, even if they only solve one problem (on their own), I will be happy 🙂

PS: yesterday I came across a video which is about basic finance and investing, and (at about 45 minutes mark) it has two interesting math (and psychological) problems too. Now I think about it, when I was in China, attending Zhenhai Middle School (its equivalent to both middle school and high school here in the US), and from time to time, I met some really good teachers and had some inspiring or interesting discussions or problems. Just think math teacher like Po Shen Loh here in the USA (CMU). If you know Chinese, I think 李永乐老师 is the best on math, science, life and literature (yes I said it he is good on everything 🙂 And Po Shen Loh (CMU math professor) is pretty close on that too.

(Update 03-24-2022) I just noticed the Spring 2022 contest is on: April 16 Saturday. Here is the link. Noticed this too: We will also be hosting a game and math review session on Wednesday, April 13th at 8 PM CT. You will have the opportunity to play fun games with your team, review math concepts for the contest, and meet others all over the country! Sign up for the session by registering for the contest.

Appendix: I collected some interesting math problems at this GitHub repo. I started collecting during the pandemic shutdown and that’s the reason it’s in that repo.

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