ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

For the Love of Maths

03.14.22 by Kyle Haskett
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Happy PI Day! In honor of this most amazing mathematical pseudo- holiday that celebrates the mathematical constant pi, or the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, I thought it was time to share my love of Maths!

It might sound funny, but there are very few times that I feel nerdy. I am sure that most people think that engineers are generally nerdy. We tend to be a brainy people who like to dig in and analyze, sift through data, and create spreadsheets. And I must admit, I do like creating a good spreadsheet. I made a spreadsheet to track the state and local COVID data. I made another spreadsheet to track my running goal of running 500 miles in 2021, which I finished on 12/10/21. And I do like video games, whether it be computer or console.  All in all, I guess you could look at portions of my life and call me nerdy. But the only time I really feel nerdy is when I think about how excited I get when I get to do Maths. One of my favorite Pi Day traditions is seeing how far I can progress through the pidaychallenge.com;, if you are a math person, give it a try.

First off, since we are in the US, I am sure many people are trying to correct the grammar and say it’s “Math.” But I lean more toward the European way of thinking. I, it should be “Maths” because it is short for Mathematics. Algebra and geometry are quite different topics, and to lump them together makes it seem like it is all the same universal concept. Therefore, I like to think of them as the Maths. 

In school, Maths were my favorite subjects, by far. They just made sense to me, my brain was just able to absorb the concepts and methods without much effort. And I believe most people like doing things they are good at. I rarely had to race to finish my Maths homework because it was the first subject I wanted to tackle when I got home. While I would have enjoyed pursuing Maths through college, the theoretical aspects of Maths didn’t appeal to me. In the long run, the practical application of Maths in engineering was the better fit, and I don’t have any doubts I made the right choice.

Recently, I had the opportunity to get back into some Maths through my niece, who was having trouble in her algebra 1 class. I would get a screenshot from my wife saying something along the lines of, “Please figure out number 19.”  The screenshot I was provided would be a quarter- page of an algebra book with a single section of homework problems with number 19 included. It was so much fun to try because I had little to no context as to what type of solutions there were looking for or methods for the solution. It was such a fun puzzle to work out. I found myself solving the problems to multiple stages of possible solutions and using various methods per solution. Unfortunately, this scattershot of written answers was not that helpful to someone struggling to understand the single method taught to her in person.

This is how I started tutoring Maths. I have been helping my niece as she has progressed with the advanced classes of algebra, geometry, and algebra 2. I also have helped my younger niece with her fourth and fifth grade Maths. Since tutoring seemed to go well, I have started tutoring other students who are not family. I look forward to the nights I get to tutor so much that my wife is in charge of scheduling so I don’t miss out on family time. The highest-level class I tutor is calculus, as that’s the highest level taught at most high schools. 

You might be wondering at this point, “How much does a math tutor make?” I have no idea how much tutors typically charge, and I don’t currently charge my tutor students. My first response to a potential new student is, “Have you tried Khan Academy?” It is a free online tutoring platform that covers pretty much everything. But some students don’t learn well just watching videos and need that in-person experience. But personally, I feel uncomfortable charging to help students understand a difficult subject when I am not a teacher. I have not passed any teacher licensing exams or board certifications, and at this point I don’t really have plans to. My wife keeps telling me we are going to have to start charging to keep the number of students down, but I am just satisfied knowing I help someone understand the Maths I love so much.

There is also a great need in the country right now for Maths help. If you have a child who has been distant learning due to the pandemic you have probably seen their struggles in Maths increase. It seems to me like Maths were one of the hardest hit subjects in terms of students struggling to learn online. I understand that I am providing a valuable service teaching the students these subjects, and I do get satisfaction from knowing that I am helping in a way that not everyone has the ability to. The list of people who like Maths, who can do Maths, and who can teach Maths, who are not professionals is not that long. If you love doing Maths like I do, please consider donating some of your time to helping your community by tutoring.

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Kyle Haskett, PE


Kyle received both his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. He is…

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