Qatar Foundation has launched an inquiry-based afterschool mathematics program that is helping high school students to think outside of the box to solve complex equations and word problems.
Organized by Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education’s (PUE) student enrichment program, weekly sessions are led by mathematics professors from three Qatar Foundation (QF) partner universities Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), and Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar as well as Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).
The program aims to provide students in grades 10 to 12 with an opportunity to explore advanced topics in mathematics in a collaborative and challenging environment.
Associate Teaching Professor of Mathematics at CMU-Q Anthony Weston, is part of a team of 12 responsible for setting up the program. “I was most happy with the outcome and thus see the QF Math Circle as having immense potential,” he says.
“The benefit to students is clear: it will broaden and deepen their exposure to the mathematical sciences, and it will help them build a platform for university studies and STEM-based careers. They also get a taste of university life and the opportunity to learn from an array of active mathematicians.” And interest has been high, according to Weston.
“Even with the initial sessions of the QF Math Circle, there has been a very high level of engagement and excitement expressed by the students. They have really been enjoying the program so far.”
According to Dr. Nordine Mir, professor of Mathematics at TAMUQ, the program was established to challenge the misconception that mathematics is just an exercise is memorizing numbers and formulas.
“The goal of the QF Math Circle is to correct misconceptions and to show the opposite, that is full of intuition and mostly concerned with understanding abstract concepts and making connections.”
Dr. Mir also explained that the program offers a more flexible format compared to teaching a traditional math course. “The QF Math Circle has a very flexible format where we can teach material that is outside of the box to students who are motivated and want to go beyond their boundaries. The program not only provides a different experience for students but also for the professors involved.”
Halima Bensmail, Principal Scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute, Joint Professor at HBKU, and a visiting professor at TAMUQ, explains that the goal of the QF Math Circle is to teach students how to solve mathematical problems in an approachable, refined, and creative way.
“We try to expose them to things that will help them develop certain abilities, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical thinking, quantitative reasoning, the capacity to work with precise and complex ideas, the ability to build logical arguments and identify illogical ones, communication, and time management,” she said.
Bensmail emphasizes that they want students to view math as a simple subject that only requires reasoning and logic, saying: “By approaching math problems as a game or puzzle, we aim to boost students’ confidence and encourage them to be relaxed when trying to solve them.”
Source: Qatar News Agency