parenting tips

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

 

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!

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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!!!

Self-Care Tips for Studying

Whether or not you had a valentine this past Valentine’s Day, HOPEFULLY you noticed that it’s MOST important to be your OWN VALENTINE and LOVE YOURSELF! Although we think it’s SUPER important to love and take care of yourself, this can be extremely difficult – especially while studying! Studying can sometimes overwhelm us, stress us out, and completely take over our lives. To avoid having school-life completely take over, it’s important to practice loving yourself by using different self-care tips. By practicing the following 5 self-care tips you will be able to avoid unnecessary school-related breakdowns, you will be able to keep calm and carry on - trust us.

  1. Take a bubble bath

If work is starting to make you go crazy, STOP whatever you’re doing and pour yourself a warm and luxurious bubble bath. Want a TMG trick? Using lavender soaps and Epsom salts in the tub will help to relax the muscles in your mind AND body. Try spending JUST 15 minutes in the bath soaking your body and quieting your mind - that's all it takes, and it makes a huge diff in terms of how you approach your work after giving yourself some soaking time to chill out!

  1. Write in a journal

Get out ALL thoughts clogging your mind and inhibiting you from doing your schoolwork by writing them down. By getting out all your feelings on paper, it will be easier to compartmentalize the thoughts as they continue to flow through your mind. And who knows, maybe now that you’ve written down all your thoughts they might not come back – at least until after you're done focusing on the work you have to do RIGHT now!

  1. Exercise

Exercising is one of the best ways to focus on something other than schoolwork. While running as fast as you can on the treadmill who even has TIME to think about school? Aren’t you just focused on putting one foot in-front of the other and BREATHING to stay ALIVE? Not only does exercising actually rejuvenate you physically, it actually causes your brain to release endorphins which amps up your mood! Science in action guys!

  1. Take the day off

Sometimes you’ve been working SO hard that you just need a day off to do next to nothing. On your day off do NOT even THINK about doing schoolwork. This day off is COMPLETELY for you! Take time to sleep in, stay in your PJ’s and curl up on your sofa with the latest Netflix releases (or like, read a book - FOR FUN). Sounds like the perfect day, right?!

  1. Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes all we can think about is school, school and MORE school. If you have nothing to look forward to besides school, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future. To make you excited about something other than all of that homework that lies ahead, plan something to look forward to. Whether it’s a smaller outing like a movie with a friend or a bigger excursion like a vacation, planning events (whether big or small) in the future will allow you NOT to ONLY focus on school work; with events planned you will now have other things to think about and motivate you to get work done!

We never said it was easy to take care of yourself. However, we DO know that it’s EXTREMELY important. So, the next time you’re feeling out of control, like the world is going to end if you don’t ace your math test, try implementing one of these many self-care tips - you've got this, we know you do!

5 Super Awesome Online Resources for Extra Math and Science Help

Do you ever miss what your teacher said in class? Do you ever fail to understand your chicken scratch handwriting and piece together the notes you took? Do you ever completely forget the lesson given? Do you ever need further clarification on concepts explored? Do you...love Youtube?! If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could SERIOUSLY benefit from watching online videos that focus on teaching math and science concepts explored in the classroom. By watching online videos after class you can cover the material that you missed, forgot or failed to understand. Not only do online videos help fill the gaps in your knowledge, they help to consolidate and enhance your knowledge too. Math and science websites are information goldmines that can help you in SO many ways BUT can be SUPER overwhelming because there are so many options out there! In order to help you navigate the big wide world of math and science websites, here’s TMG’s guide to some of the best.

1. Khan Academy

Salman Khan, the voice and teacher behind Khan Academy, is simply incredible. Seriously, he’s THE best. Khan explains things SO clearly and concisely while using plain and accessible language - it’s almost impossible to miss what he’s saying. Plus, Khan often uses real-life examples that make the information given relevant.

2. Tyler DeWitt

Super energetic and enthusiastic about all things math and science, Tyler DeWitt’s YouTube channel is actually AMAZING. Covering topics that may seem basic but are actually complex (like significant digits and conversions), DeWitt takes you through these concepts slowly and surely while using extremely appealing visuals. Not only does DeWitt have written visuals, but he films himself doing the problems. This added visual of Tyler DeWitt explaining the problems makes it feel like you’re in a classroom listening to a real-life teacher. How awesome is that?!

3. MooMoo Math and Science

Using fun graphics to explain concepts like quadratic equations and the area of an isosceles triangle, MooMoo Math and Science is taught by certified math and science teachers. Geared more towards a younger audience, MooMoo Math and Science has an entire section of their channel dedicated to middle school science teachings.

4. LearnCOACH

Because LearnCOACH is based in New Zealand, the website divides the material featured on their website into 3 levels that correspond with their education system. Despite this difference in the New Zealand schooling system, LearnCOACH covers plenty of math and science topics. From chemistry, biology and physics, LearnCOACH provides you with material that is similar if not the same as what you would be learning in class.

5. MathHelp.com

With a section devoted to getting you back on track in school, MathHelp.com is the perfect resource for remedial help. Featuring a wide range of material from grade 5 math to college math, MathHelp.com can aid you with so many of your math needs no matter the stage of your academic career.

Next time you feel lost in class and need some extra help clarifying topics covered, turn to these amazing resources to get you through the material. Always presented in a way to better help you understand, there’s no chance that after watching these videos you won't understand math just a LITTLE bit more...at the very least!

 

 

New Year… New You?

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HELLO 2017 HOW MAY I HELP YOU (MYSELF)?!  With an entire year ahead of you, it's the perfect time to dust off those ambitions and bring them to centre stage. An opportunity to start fresh, a new year means new goals, new habits, and...well, a new you! However, even though you may be super into achieving your goals, it not necessarily an easy feat – how often do we write down New Year’s resolutions and simply NOT stick to them? To help you achieve your goals and make 2017 the best year yet, this week’s TMG blog post is all about the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting model. Let's DO THIS. S – Specific 

When setting your goals, be specific. The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. To make a goal specific, try and answer the following questions: who, what, when, where and why? To give you a better idea of what we mean, an example of a vague goal is: improve my performance in school. A specific goal is: increase my mark in each course by 5%.

M – Measurable

To create a measurable goal, establish exactly what you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. By doing this, you're breaking your goal into measurable elements which can actually be quantified. Like, you can actually TELL if you've accomplished them. To help figure out whether or not your goal is measurable, ask yourself: how will I know when my goal is accomplished? If you actually have an answer, it's measurable:)

A – Attainable

Do you have the resources to make this goal attainable? Do you have enough time, money or talent to make this goal part of your reality? Ask yourself whether or not you’re setting the bar just a bit too high – what’s realistic for you? So in terms of school, saying "I'm going to do 10 hours of math a day," while ADMIRABLE, is totally unrealistic...since you probably want to eat. And sleep. And like, have a life.

R – Relevant

Before proceeding, it is important to ask yourself whether or not this goal is important to you – do you really care about running a marathon? If your goal is not something that you truly and deeply care about, the chances of you achieving it are much less. Pick a goal that’s important to you, that way you are more likely to stick with it!

T – Timely

The year is long and there is a ton of time within it to achieve your goals. However, if you don't set deadlines for your goals, there more likely you are to NOT achieve them. No matter how small, deadlines give you something to work towards by helping you to keep up your momentum. Break down your goals into small chunks and actually put deadlines IN a physical calendar so that you can see them approaching! If your goal is to raise your mark by 10%, set a deadline for the first 5%, and another for the remaining 5%. That way you won't feel like you have to do EVERYTHING at once!

Most importantly, try and stay positive when working towards your goals. A strong-willed and positive outlook will get you much further than you can even imagine. And remember - most people are capable of WAY more than they give themselves credit for. How are YOU going to blow your OWN mind this year?

The Spooookiest Time Of The Year: Report Card Time!!!

It’s that magical time of the year again – no, not Christmas time – report card time. Report card time truly IS magical because it’s the perfect moment to gauge your progress both inside and outside the classroom. Report cards allow you to receive feedback from both your teachers and parents, helping to motivate you to keep up your current work ethic. In addition to receiving feedback from others, report cards provide time for self-reflection, the opportunity to see if you have achieved or are close to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Divided into three EASY steps, this week’s blog post is a guide on how to act before, during and after you have received your report card. The purpose of this blog post is to help you realize that getting an 89% instead of a 90% is not something to cry about. I mean, really – both marks are AWESOME and you should be PROUD of receiving either one. Instead of crying over perceived failures, TMG wants you to learn ­how to SMILE about the successes that you have had so far and be MOTIVATED to continue putting forth hard-work in order to continue succeeding! After all, the school year is a long journey that has its many twists and turns; as my Dad would say: “school is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”.report-card1. Before: Self-Reflect

Although report cards are amazing pieces of information that straight-up tell you how you’re doing, I’m sure you already have an idea of your marks and what your teachers think about you BEFORE receiving your report card. So, instead of relying on what the teacher actually writes about you on paper, take a moment to think about how you’ve been doing in class. Ask yourself whether you’ve been completing your homework, handing in assignments on time, and putting forth your best effort? Do you truly, and I mean truly, come to class every day ready to learn? If not, then what can you do to improve? Take a moment to think about all of these questions BEFORE your teacher just hands you the answers. You might be pleasantly surprised and wonderfully relieved to see that you and your teacher are on the same page.

homer2. During: Keep Calm

I never liked reading my report card the second it was given to me, it really freaked me out to be reading it in front of my peers, I didn’t want anyone asking me my marks and comparing grades – it wasn’t their business, it was mine. So, whether you like to read your report card in front of others or want to go to a more secluded environment to look through your marks AND comments, the ONE piece of advice that I want you to have in mind is to KEEP CALM. Read through everything SLOWLY and THOROUGHLY. Teachers take their time to write comments, give marks on not only your school work but on other EQUALLY IMPORTANT categories like class participation and homework completion. Do not RUSH through your report card because it can tell you SO much about how you’re doing and can give you very important clues on how to help you progress throughout the rest of the school year.keep-calm-and-carry-on-crown-wallpaper-13. After: Discuss

After reading through your report card, don’t bottle up your thoughts and feelings about the feedback you have received. Discuss your findings with someone who you can trust, someone who will listen to you without judgment. Once you have discussed your report card with someone else, you can (with or without them), start to reflect on what you have read. Do you agree with what your teachers have said, are their comments fair? What did you do well on, what did you do not so well on, what are the areas that you can improve upon? After reflecting with the help of someone else, you can now create a game-plan on how to attack the rest of the school year and be, like we at TMG have said you can be, a TOTAL BOSS.icon_3373

Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Keep Your Math Anxiety Under Control

It’s that time of the year again. Classes have started to pick up, the first tests have already happened, and you may or may not be freaking out over your work and/or test results. Instead of worrying yourself silly over your future work and test results, let’s focus on building the skills that you need to keep calm and carry on in math class. stressedstudentgirl

  1. Stay on top of your work

As difficult as it may be to write down the information given in class, understand it, and do your homework, staying on top of all the assigned work can and will help you “ace” your math class. This way, once that test comes around, you won’t be freaking out over what information you didn’t cover—instead, you will be in the know. To help you take down as much course information as possible in an efficient and effective manner, check out our blog post on “The Note Taking #KeysToSuccess”.

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  1. Learn breathing techniques

When you get into a test and just don’t know what’s going on, take a few, repeated, big “belly breaths” to help ease your anxiety. There are many different types of effective breathing techniques developed but it’s important to find the one that works best for you. A popular breathing technique is called “box breathing” and involves visualizing a box as you breathe in and out, using your diaphragm, for four counts of four. To learn more about this technique and many others, check out one of our fave how-to articles thanks to Livestrong!

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  1. Ask questions

A key to succeeding in math class (and any class for that matter), is to ask questions when you require clarification on certain concepts. This can be an intimidating experience but chances are other classmates of yours have similar if not the same questions. Think of yourself as doing everyone a favour–especially since asking questions can oftentimes lead the teacher to give out hints regarding what kind of material is going to be on the next evaluation.

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  1. Be aware of negative self-talk

More often than not we can speak extremely negatively towards ourselves without even noticing. We all have the tendency to give ourselves small put-downs every now and again. If constantly repeated, these put downs can become automatic thoughts and part of our subjective reality. The best defence against this type of negative, self-sabotaging thinking, is to catch yourself saying these negative thoughts to yourself. Once you take note of your thoughts you will realize that you are not “completely doomed to fail” your next math test and are, in fact, “fairly well prepared”.

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  1. Slow and steady wins the race

A sure way to ease your anxiety around test taking is to slow down and take your time when reading through a test. The more you rush through a test, the higher the chances that you will miss an important piece of information and make a careless mistake. When taking one’s time to read instructions, it is often helpful to highlight or underline key terms in the questions in order to signal important information. For example, highlighting the words “show all your work” will ensure that you do, in fact, show all your work - ALL the time!

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In short, if you follow these small and simple techniques to combat your work and subsequent anxiety around test-taking, you should not only be more prepared for your upcoming evaluation but more at ease throughout this process. Test taking time can be THE time to show off everything you know! Don't let anxiety get in the way of boasting those brains!

STEM ROAD TRIP TIME!

Is there any better time to explore something new than during the summer? We sure don’t think so. With the typical flock of festivals, parties and weekends at the cottage you’re already probably taking part in this summer, sometimes it can be good to shake things up a little. There are tons of math/science-related attractions across the continent that we totally want to hit up before the summer ends. Check out our list of the best places to head to if you’re feeling like your brain might be getting a little blurry.. museum-of-math-upper-level

  1. MOMATH - New York City, USA

Aka the Museum of Mathematics. Yes you read that correctly. The city that never sleeps is also home to the National Museum of Mathematics, the only museum of its kind in the entire country! According to their website, MoMath “strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics”. Now that’s a field trip outing we can 100% get behind.  

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  1. The Science Centre - Toronto, Canada

Sometimes, we forget that Toronto is home to one of the coolest museum’s in the country. In addition to the Science Centre’s permanent displays, there’s always special exhibits and super cool IMAX movies that are worth checking out. Right now, you can catch A Beautiful Planet, (a doc that explores Earth from space and is narrated by #girlboss J-Law) and America Wild (which takes you on an experiential tour of America’s best national parks).

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  1. National Air and Space Museum - Washington DC, USA

Put that physics knowledge to use and gear up for your Grade 12 Calc & Vectors course by visiting the National Air and Space Museum in DC. A part of the Smithsonian Institute, the museum boasts the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. In addition to being able to get up close and personal with spaceships, the museum also features tons of educational info on planetary science and geology. Can’t make it all the way to DC? Check out their STEM webcasts, 30-minute live webcasts you can catch that cover Science, Technology and Engineering related topics!

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  1. Museum of Natural History - New York City, USA

If you’re visiting the MOMATH in NYC, then you might as well kill two birds with one stone and head to the Museum of Natural History too. If you’ve seen the Ben Stiller classic Night at the Museum, you can experience all those exhibits in IRL (but we can’t guarantee the dinosaurs will actually come alive). Between the Cosmic pathway, Ocean Life Hall and Hall of Human Origins, this is a museum you could kill some serious time in .

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  1. The Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum - Ottawa, Canada

We all know by now that Food = Science. That’s why we’re suggesting this totally unique museum found in our nation’s capital. Check out the inner workings of a farm, learn about Canada’s agricultural history and the technology that’s working to create renewable energy production on farms. Current exhibitions to see include “Food Preservation: The Science You Eat” and “Taking Care of Beesness”.