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All-school "Math Monday" challenge makes math fun for all students
St. Andrew’s senior Daniel Kye ’23 loves math. In fact, he loves it so much, he’s on a personal mission to help all St. Andrew’s students fall in love with math, too.
This fall Daniel and his classmate Sarah Rose Odutola ’23 launched “Math Mondays”—a weekly math challenge open to the entire school community.
Each Monday, students pick up a new math puzzle—chosen by Daniel and Sarah Rose—from a bin in the Main Common Room. The puzzles are not necessarily complex equations, but rather are often patterns or games that require the application of logic and analysis. “I try to select a variety of types of problems to keep it interesting,” he says. Students work on the problems throughout the week and turn their answers in by Sunday. Problem sets are graded then tallied by dorm; at the end of the competition, the winning dorm will receive a pizza party. With only a few weeks left to go in the competition, the leading dorm changes each week.
“I’ve heard students talking about [Math Monday problems] on the way to lunch,” Daniel says. “I’ve heard others discussing it between classes. It’s great to hear it!” Daniel notes his hope for the weekly competition is that it makes math more accessible and fun for all.
Daniel, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but spent parts of his youth in California, discovered his love of math in middle school. “I always enjoyed math, but in middle school my passion really grew,” he says.
His family moved to California during his freshman year of high school, and Daniel found he enjoyed engaging discussions during his classes. Prior to his junior year, Daniel began to consider changing schools, both in an effort to find himself, and to feel more engaged with his peers. “I heard that boarding schools often lead when it comes to discussion-based learning, so I started investigating them,” he says.
He soon found St. Andrew’s and, during the pandemic, did a virtual tour. “I had looked at some other boarding schools, but I felt a connection with St. Andrew’s,” he says.
He landed on campus for his junior year and hasn’t looked back. “Everyone was warm and inviting. There is a sense of family here,” he says.
During his first year at SAS, Daniel had heard from peers that some of the spark of community St. Andrew’s is known for—and specifically the collaborative, exploratory math culture at the school— had faded a bit during the pandemic, under the pressure of all its health protocols.
“Coming into my senior year, I wanted to bring math culture back and really make it something accessible to everyone on campus—even people who do not love math,” Daniel says.
“It makes me proud to know that I have worked hard to give this to students,” he says. “I hope to give back to our school community in other ways during my last year here."
Here’s an example of one of the recent Math Monday puzzles:
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