Math event inspires careers in teaching

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The Teaching Improvements Through Math Education (TIME) 2000 event, held on November 22 at Queens College, rounded up eight of THHS’s own students and two of its teachers to celebrate mathematics.

The purpose of the annual event is to encourage students to pursue a career in mathematics education through a series of workshops exploring the benefits of teaching math. Over 350 students, graduates, undergraduates, and teachers worked on activities such as folding paper, using Play Dough to determine volume, calculating the distance between the sun and stars, and creating geometric line designs. Teachers from several high schools and colleges in New York as well as volunteer mentors attended the event, with each attendee assigned to two workshops and presenters explaining why they loved math before starting their workshop. The event concluded with a question and answer session among TIME 2000 students and graduates.

Senior Eleni Stellatos attended, and said that the opening presentation of renowned mathematician James Tanton, Exploding Dots: Utilizing K-12 Arithmetic and Algebra (and Beyond) in One Fell Swoop “changed how I think about math in a totally different way” and showed “how fun math can be.”

Although Math teacher Stephen Mazza never attended a TIME 2000 seminar, he watched James Tanton’s presentation at an Election Day event. “I went to a workshop [he] gave and he did the same, it’s a real interesting exploration of the base and number system,” he said.

Ms. Liu observed that the students enjoyed the workshops even more than in previous years.

Alice Artzt, the Director of TIME 2000, agreed, saying that this year’s conference was possibly the best one ever held.

“All of the workshop leaders were inspiring and engaged the high school students in hands-on intriguing mathematical activities,” she said. “The high school students were mature and actively participated throughout the day.”

However, teachers also enjoyed the event.

“I always enjoyed going to the event because I see my old classmates and professors that I had when I attended this program,” adds Ms. Liu.

The Time 2000 program offers a one-thousand dollar scholarship for high school seniors based on grades, recommendations from math teachers, and interest in mathematics education. Through the scholarship, TIME 2000 also provides mathematical opportunities for students such as seminars, trips, and tutoring.

“Upon graduation, TIME 2000 students are in great demand and have no problem getting teaching positions immediately,” said Dr. Artzt.

Eleni, who is interested in applying for the scholarship, said that although she is uncertain about what field to go into, pursuing a career in math opens up a “wider range of opportunities like physics and law.”

Dr. Artzt stresses the importance of math educators, particularly during the present “digital age.”  She explains that math is crucial to solving real-world problems and enriches daily life.

“Only the most dedicated and well-prepared mathematics teachers can awaken the mathematical ability that lies within each and every student,” said Dr. Artzt. “I can hardly think of a more important and fulfilling career than being a mathematics teacher.”

According to Dr. Artzt, Queens College has been funded to run TIME 2000 since 1997. The program was established  in response to a shortage of mathematics teachers and changes in school math programs, which required reforms in teaching preparation. Its goal was to prepare mathematically skilled high school seniors to become “highly competent secondary mathematics teachers and leaders who love and understand the importance of mathematics and who are both knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach and how to teach.”

Ms. Liu looks forward to next year’s TIME 2000 event, saying, “I hope that more of my students will find interest in becoming a mathematics teacher.”