geek

Guest Guru: Q & A with Mayim Bialik!

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Okay guys, this is a big one for us. Last year, one of OUR role models, Mayim Bialik, invited us to write a piece for her incredible and inspiring site, GrokNation. Today, she’s making a cameo on our blog as an ever-fab Guest Guru! Aside from being a kickass leading lady on The Big Bang Theory, she's one of the big players in the movement towards encouraging women to pursue #STEM. Mayim is an advocate that we totally look up to and wish we could hang out with on the daily - for real. We’re so pumped that she took the time to answer some of our burning questions! Q: Let's start with this: what is the absolute coolest thing about math and/or science?

A: Well, it's hard to pick one thing! I think the coolest thing about math is that it is a completely arbitrary set of names and labels we have given to a system that literally runs the universe. Instead of calling things one, six, and 500, we could also call them polkadot, badger, and violin. Math would still be math because it just IS and we find ways to explain what it is with words and symbols and labels.

Q: Why should high school kids stick with math and science instead of dropping them at the earliest opportunity?

A: The majority of jobs available to young people in the future will require some background in math and science. In addition, some of the higher paid jobs and jobs in the fastest growing most exciting markets require math and science. Plus, understanding math and science sets you up for understanding the world in a whole different way even if you don't choose to go into those for your career. It can help you plan for your life including finances, buying a house, and general decision-making. Also, it gives you an appreciation of the universe that can really change your perspective on life in great ways.

Q: I love love love that you're passionate about finding ways to encourage young women to enter STEM - that's what I'm all about! What are three things that you think we all could be doing that we're not?

A: More positive role models, more mentorship programs, and more funding from the government please!

Q: Girls often develop the belief that they're inherently bad at math much more frequently than boys do. Why do you think that is?

A: Girls and boys brains do tend to work differently, and this means that sometimes the female brain appreciates being taught in ways that have typically been designed to teach male brains.  Sometimes, girls need to be able to picture themselves as a mathematician or a scientist in order to be able to understand why the skills are even important to put in effort to learn. Also, girls tend to be more social, more verbally sophisticated, and more interested in different kinds of activities than these classes sometimes lend themselves to. Creative teachers and more funding for math and science in schools would help this a lot.

Q: I really really believe that a huge part of why girls aren't inspired to pursue STEM is due to the fact that popular media doesn't exactly paint STEM as inspiring or welcoming for girls. What do you think?

A: I think we definitely see a lot of stereotypes of females in the media when we think about women in science. In addition, our culture in general reveres youth and beauty over praising and understanding the kind of people who pursue a life in math and science. So I don't know that I would blame the media, but I think the media is part of a larger problem we have in our culture with what we value and how.

Q: Do you think that your character in Big Bang is finally a step in the right direction for popular media and representations of women in STEM? Have any young women reached out to you about our character?

A: A lot of people think the characters on the Big Bang theory are stereotypes and possibly negative stereotypes of nerds and geeks. I personally know people like all of the characters!  and while Bernadette is a microbiologist who wears more attractive clothing and cute headbands and Amy is more of a modest dresser, we are showing two different kinds of females in science and I love being a part of that.  Also, all of the characters on the Big Bang theory who are scientists enjoy their lives, enjoy the way their life is structured and have friends and successful relationships. I think that is very important to show on television.

Q: Lack of confidence is a major issue when it comes to girls pursuing STEM. What advice do you have for parents of young girls who develop a fear of math in elementary school?

A: Reinforcing that boy and girl brains alike can and should learn math is very important. There are a lot of programs online that parents can be involved with alongside their children to encourage them to build positive skills especially in the math department.

Q: How do you feel about the word 'nerd'? Yes or no and why?

A: I fall under the category of nerd and geek so I say yes!  I have been called a nerd a lot in my life by people who were being mean, but now the culture has shifted, I kind of like being called a nerd. I love all sorts of nerdy and geeky things and enjoy my life a lot because of those things.

Q: Is there hope? Seriously - do you think things have improved in terms of female participation in STEM fields, and do you see them continuing to improve?

A: I think there is definitely hope. You and the work you do give me hope!

For more info on Mayim and the amazing work she does to encourage young women to pursue STEM, check out her full-on website or visit Groknation! LOVE her SO MUCH!

Can you think of someone who you would love for us to feature as a Guest Guru? Holler at us: info@themathguru.ca!

Photo Cred: James Banasiak

 

5 Reasons to Watch Hidden Figures

Oscar season is just around the corner and thanks to Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, TMG is buzzing with excitement about this year’s red carpet. Telling the story of three African-American women who are BOTH mathematicians and scientists at NASA, this movie is extremely empowering. TMG is OBSESSED with the fact that this movie showcases the incredible abilities of women in STEM – we LOVE girl power! As if watching women crush and crunch numbers like total BOSSES wasn’t reason enough to see this movie, we are providing you with 5 MORE reasons to go and watch Hidden Figures. 1. Math and Science are Relevant

Showing you that math and science have USEFUL applications outside of the classroom, Hidden Figures makes you realize that what you’re currently learning is relevant to not only a potential future career but also relevant to your understanding of what kind of theoretical work is applied to NASA’s space missions.

2. Math and Science are Cool

Hollywood is cool, right?! And sexy, sparkly, glamorous, Hollywood is talking about a movie that features math and science. Therefore, Hollywood is making math and science cool. SO, be cool and get in on the Hollywood buzz!

3. Learn About History

Want to sound knowledgeable about American history? Go and watch Hidden Figures! Because this movie is based on a true story, you will come out of this movie knowing SO much more about an important (yet underrepresented) part of American history.

4. Strong Acting

Featuring fierce and fiery performances by Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P, this trio of women is one that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. With Oscar nominations to prove the star-quality of their performances, the acting in Hidden Figures will NOT disappoint.

5. Feel-Good Story

A lot of movies currently in theatres are super-heavy tear jerkers that have you leaving the theatre in a bit of a slump. If you want to be picked up, enlightened and empowered, this movie is the one to watch. Hidden Figures will make you laugh and cheer loudly for these amazing women, you will feel GOOD after leaving the theatre.

If you think about it, we have really given you 6 reasons to go and see Hidden Figures. So, get off of Netflix and get into a theatre to watch this empowering, inspiring and educational piece of highly talked about art that ACTUALLY features STEM!!!

 

 

 

Guest Guru: Meet Elizabeth Celentano!

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What even IS a "Guest Guru"? Let us tell you! There are so many amazing people with so many incredible voices out there, that we wanted to dedicate a part of our blog to giving these voices a platform. Our new "Guest Guru" feature is our way of showcasing the amazing awesome people and places that we've had the chance to discover, to create a community of shared experiences. You know what they say: two minds (or like, a million minds) are better than one! Our Guest Gurus might be featured once, twice or on an ongoing basis if they want to share as much as possible with you! We know that we don't know EVERYTHING, and we're excited to collab with people that know stuff that we don't so that YOU, in turn, can learn from them as much as we can. We hope that you enjoy our very first Guest Guru post! If YOU have a great idea for a Guest Guru that we can feature on our site - email us at info@themathguru.ca! The more the merrier - enjoy the ride!

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Hello TMG readership!

To my knowledge, I am the first guest-blogger to join the TMG family! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share this space with you all.

My name is Liz. I am a full-time chemical engineer, working in a manufacturing plant. More importantly, I am a lifelong lover of math and science. More accurately, I am a 100% geek. Put whatever you want in front of it – math-geek, science-geek, music-geek, theatre-geek, board game-geek – I am EXTREMELY passionate about a lot of things.

That being said, I wouldn’t have loved math and science as much as I do just from my teachers at school. I was lucky enough to have an amazing tutor outside of school from grade 5 until I graduated high school that went above and beyond the normal school topics. He taught me to LOVE math contests and actually get pretty good at them (did you know you could get medals for MATH?!); he shared his love of astronomy with me (did anyone else see the recent super moon????); but most importantly he would teach me math in a way that made it relevant to me. He taught me that before Pythagoras existed, Ancient Egyptians would use knotted rope to create the right angles needed when building the pyramids using known ratios (later known as Pythagorean Triples). And in an unforgettable moment, he brought this demonstration to my house, and almost got my entire living room wet – but to this day I can recall the formulas for spheres, cones and cylinders without hesitation!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZkhnIzBC_k[/embed]

I am hoping through these semi-regular blog posts that I can bring some relevant news or related topics to your attention to help get YOU excited about math and science! I’ll even talk about my work, what I’m getting excited about day-to- day, and I can even answer questions!

Stay tuned, and get excited for this collaboration!!!

Super Chill Coffee Shops To Study At

Tired of always doing your homework in the saaaaame spot? If you’re feeling like the answer is “YES”, it’s time to ditch your typical digs and grab a change of scenery by hitting one of our fave coffee shops! Diversifying your study station makes studying a little more new and exciting and is one of the best ways to keep motivated. Tasty snacks? Check! Fancy drinks? Check! Chill vibes? Check! These five local coffee shops will keep your thirst quenched and your brain fueled!

  1. Istanbul Café

Located right at Eglinton & Redpath (right near you NSS kids!), Instanbul Café transports you straight to the super chill Middle East with its décor, traditional Turkish food and coffee. Creating a warm and cozy atmosphere for its customers, this space will make you feel totally at home without actually being AT home. Comfy chairs, big tables, and a laptop friendly environment, this is one of our fave coffee shops to study at!

  1. Boxcar Social (Summerhill)

Conveniently located right outside the Summerhill subway station, Boxcar Social is super-easy to access even if you’re not within walking distance. The interior’s rustic vibes make the space feel lived in and comfortable. Fitted with an upstairs, this shop has ample seating, making it easy for you to study with or without your squad!

  1. Crosstown Coffee Bar

A hidden gem off of Eglinton near Avenue road, Crosstown Coffee Bar is simply adorable. The shop’s comfy window seat receives tons of natural light that will definitely make your study sesh pleasantly bright. The shop’s three c’s – cookies, coffee and cuteness - make this tiny shop one to visit sometime soon!

  1. Rachel’s Coffee House

On Yonge street just steps away from Davisville station, Rachel's Coffee House is another cozy coffee shop that you should definitely check out! Equipped with coffee and snacks of all kinds, this shop will keep you well-nourished while you’re cozying up in their ultra-comfy armchairs.

  1. De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters

Located just down the street from TMG, this is the perfect place to kill some time studying before or after your tutoring sesh. Walls covered in artsy murals, this spot is super-hipster but like, not in a bad way:) All of their pastries made in house, De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters has some seriously yummy (and healthy!) snack options to fuel your homework session!

 

Staying SHARP and SMART During Summer

Now that school is officially OUT, you can kick back and relax- well kinda. While we totally encourage taking the summer  to wind down and recharge, it's also a good idea to incorporate a couple of easy (and fun!) activities into your break. Check out this list below for a few suggestions on things you can do to stay sharp and smart during your vacay.  teen-reading_n3niw4

Read, Read, Read

John Green, (a.k.a author of The Fault in Our Stars) said “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” If you think that reading should only be done when your english class requires it, you might want to reconsider. Supplement your spare time in the summer with books that actually interest you. Reading (of any genre) has the capacity to exercise your brain and improve its function.

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Crossword Puzzles, Sudokus, Educational Apps etc.

Between smartphones and iPads, there are endless options of apps you can download that might actually help build brain cells instead of deplete them. Rather than opening up Angry Birds or Candy Crush, stock your electronics with Sudoku apps or Crossword puzzles. In need of some recommendations? Stay tuned for our next blog post!

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Make Time for Cultural Activities

Get out and explore your city! During the summer months, so many museums and galleries feature special exhibits. Browse their websites to see what’s happening, and find something that looks appealing to you. Make a point to visit one of these places on a rainy day or on a weekend. You’ll leave feeling cultured and educated!

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Watch Documentaries

Documentaries are a great way to feel both educated and entertained. With Netflix, Shomi and so many other streaming services around, there is no shortage of docs you can watch right from the comfort of your couch. If you aren’t sure what’s worth your time, check out lists of film festival favourites and award show nominees for some inspiration. We’re giving a shout out to Cosmos, at 13-part documentary series that’s out of this world...literally.

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Keep a Journal

You know that sick feeling in your stomach you get the first week back at school when your teacher asks you to write a paragraph and you can barely remember how to hold a pen?! Keeping a journal will prevent that!! Summer always feels like it’s over way too quickly, so make the most of it by documenting all the adventures you get up to. Not only is it a great way to remember your experiences, but also to reflect on, and appreciate them.

Math & Memes & Talk Shows, OH MY!

It’s the second week of June and we know that can only mean one of two things - you are either in the thick of exams or soooo close to the finish line you can almost taste it. There are of course a couple of you lucky ducks that are already out for the summer and (whom we are totally jealous of). Whatever your current situation, we thought we’d brighten your Thursday with some math related (but totally awesome) content.    If you’re one of those people who thinks that math and science are reserved strictly for textbooks and classrooms, think again! We’ve scoured the internet to find you some of the most hilarious articles and videos that combine our favourite things: academics and pop culture.

 

  1. This article from U.K. Complex that worked out how Reddit used calculated how much money Joey owes Chandler (plus many more pop culture math problems). 

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2. These videos from Jimmy Fallon where he explains “popular mathematics”. Definitely not the most accurate source for educational resources, but we give Jimmy credit shining a spotlight on the concept of math, and giving the subject a prime time TV spot! (We’ve linked two of them below, but Jimmy’s made several of them!)

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s_BU2qkHyc[/embed]

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZXyJXrG8C8[/embed]

 

3. This math meme ft. Lady Gaga that will totally help you remember how to deal with polynomials. BEST.

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4. The PBS Math Club just about knocks our socks off. This collection of Youtube videos riffs off of well-known movies to explain mathematical concepts. Videos range from a Wes Anderson style satire that explains how to multiply positive and negative numbers to a Mean Girls/Darth Vader collab that lays out adding negative numbers. We’re OBSESSED.                        

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[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmarTb7wXro[/embed]

MMMVAs (Much Music Math Video Awards)

Sometimes the internet just blows us away. Between the thousands of memes, Buzzfeed lists, and those quick speed cooking videos all over our Facebook feeds, it’s never a dull moment. YouTube in particular is home to some pretty sweet content, including these HILARIOUS math parody music videos. Today, in our own version of the Much Music Video Awards, we’ve rounded up our favourites. If you’re in need of a little pre-homework pump up, get into the zone with one of these videos. We promise they’ll have you calculating to the beat. “It’s Just Math” - Frozen Let It Go Parody

Yes, Anna and Elsa love math. This song has an emphasis on geometry, which makes perfect sense, since Elsa’s frozen castle was basically constructed out of ICEsoceles triangles. (Pun, very much intended).

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9bbM9_36zw[/embed]

“Teach Me How to Factor” - Teach Me How to Dougie Parody 

What’s better than catchy rap? How about a catchy MATH rap. This parody of “Teach Me How to Dougie” will actually teach you how to factor. So if you’re tired of staring at your notes from class, drop this beat in the background while you’re doing your homework and you’ll be a factoring pro in no time.

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFSrINhfNsQ[/embed]

“All I Do is Solve” - All I Do is Win Parody

Ok huge shoutout to the WSHS math department for killing it with these videos. The same school who put together “Teach Me How to Factor” also has this gem of a song. “All I Do is Solve” focuses on solving equations, and it even goes through the three different methods, graphing, elimination and substitution!

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qHTmxlaZWQ[/embed]

“Slope” - Hello Parody

Ok so maybe this one is significantly cheesier than our other picks, but if you’re trying to learn slope, this parody of Adele’s “Hello” is pretty bang on. Also props to this teacher who clearly just really wanted to sing about mx + b.

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeY8uoS8ULw[/embed]

Uptown Factors - Uptown Funk Parody

We’ll finish up on an upbeat note! This is another video about factoring, but this time featuring a slightly more recent chart topper with this parody of Uptown Funk. We’re obsessed with everything about this video - from the dance moves, to the outfits to the informative equations that pop up throughout! You won’t be able to help but sing along!

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhSjD5nLkjY[/embed]

Worth A Thousand Words

Okay okay, so not only are pictures worth a thousand words, but let's face it - for those visual learners out there, sometimes pictures make math a thousand times easier than your math teacher does! Last week I was on Global, talking about how to get yourself into back to school mode. Yep, I know - such a celeb! Vanessa Vakharia, owner/founder of The Math Guru Math & Science Tutoring Studio

One of the things I mentioned was that the hardest thing to do after two months of soaking in sun, is to simply get back into the ZONE! Let's face it - sadly we haven't all been using math in every day summer-life (even though we SHOULD be), and as a result our brains are a bit math-mushy. So fine, maybe dusting off last year's math textbook isn't exactly what you want to do on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, but perhaps checking out some super awesome inspiration math gifs and videos is exactly what you DO want to do (read: SHOULD do)!

Starting to train your brain to think mathematically goes a long way - think of your brain as a muscle! Pumping iron does more than just get you shredded. It sets the foundation so that when you need to randomly lift something heavy, you're armed and ready to do just that! The same goes for getting your brain math-pumped! Getting your brain used to looking at the world through math-coloured lenses enables you to employ problem solving skills when you least expect to need to - like in EVERY DAY LIFE!

We get that you might not be ready to scour your textbook pages right now - so sit back, relax, and let the pictures do the talking while your brain does the learning!

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