STEM Spotlight: Math Club

STEM+Spotlight+is+a+new+Aquila+repeater+showcasing+STEM+clubs+and+their+initiatives+during+the+pandemic.

Michelle Liu

“STEM Spotlight” is a new Aquila repeater showcasing STEM clubs and their initiatives during the pandemic.

by Mark Hu, STEM Editor

STEM Spotlight is a new repeater exploring what clubs at Harker have been doing during remote learning. This week’s featured club is the Math Club, which encourages out-of-the-box problem solving and thinking in various mathematics concepts outside the scope of a typical curriculum.

Led by club adviser Dr. Anu Aiyer since 2015, the club has held various lectures and math contests ranging from shorter online competitions to longer travel competitions such as the Princeton University Mathematics Competition (PUMaC) in the past. The club also offers the B exam of the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), a 25-question, 75-minute, multiple-choice test that promotes problem-solving skills, to active club members.

Although the team is unable to travel to extended events this year, the club has continued smaller contests, such as the California Math League Competition (CAML), a six-question, 30-minute monthly contest and has provided a weekly challenge problem ranging from proofs to various geometry questions for the club’s members.

“There’s less interaction within the members in the club, but I feel like we’ve kept it pretty consistent in the activities we offer,” Utkarsh Priyam (12), co-president of the club, said. “Online learning has given us more opportunities to provide lecture options and allow more people to take contests because tournaments are taking more participants as well.”

In the first semester, the club also held AreteLabs, a weekly competition of seven to eight questions held in a March Madness-style bracket against other high school math clubs across the country. The team made it to the finals but suffered a loss by just one point.

“In the middle school, we didn’t have as many opportunities, but here in the Math Club at the high school, there’s so many different opportunities hearing from other people’s lectures and seeing different types of contests and questions,” Daniel Lin (9), member of Math Club, said.

The club has adapted to the virtual format smoothly and has seen more participation as a result.

“The officers have done a great job keeping the interest of having fun solving math problems. Because it’s online, I have seen much more of an increase in participation, because in some sense, it’s much easier to hop on a Zoom meeting for half an hour,” Dr. Aiyer said. “We’ve also had access to speakers from universities, which we haven’t done in the past because Zoom is much easier to coordinate.”

Math Club members solve problems during a Zoom meeting. Dr. Aiyer has worked with Math Club officers to adapt their meetings to a virtual format while still preparing them for competitions. (Provided by Anu Aiyer)