Back-to-School Success

Tips for Students and Parents

And just like that, another summer is over and a new school year begins! Here are some tips for both parents and students to work together to ensure a successful school year.

Students

1.  Set goals: Write them out clearly and display them somewhere that you see them everyday

                ex: I will complete my HW before I watch TV

2.  Get organized: This includes finding a way to organize papers going back and forth from subject to subject.  How are you going to know what your assignments are and when they are due? 

3. Plan: What HW, tests, and quizzes do you have this week?  How will you prepare for them?  Make sure you plan out your study time.

4. Practice: This is how you learn!  Make time each day to practice.

5. Get Help: Are you not understanding what you are supposed to be learning?  Ask!  Get help!  Go to your teacher, parent, and of course, MaThCliX!  That is what we are here for.

Parents

1.  Make sure that you know how to communicate with your student’s teacher.  Know when conferences are and plan to have a presence and be proactive in your student’s academics.

2. Check grades!  Even if your student is old enough to check their own grades, it never hurts to have a parent checking, too.  Know when progress reports and report cards are due.  If you see grades dropping, intervene quickly!

3.  Make sure your student is doing the success tips for students.  Ask them how they are doing each one.

4.  Find out about what student’s are learning each week so that you can help or get help, as needed.  Find out about tutorials, teacher websites, and recommended resources.

5. Bring your student to MaThCliX! 

AP Exams

The Importance of AP Exams

The majority of people know what an Advanced Placement (AP) course is, but many do not realize the true importance of taking these higher level classes. There are many benefits of taking AP classes, including but not limited to: the increased rigor of your overall course load which colleges take into consideration during the application process, an added 0.5 onto your letter grade which counts towards your HOPE GPA (for example, if you make a “B” in an AP class, it counts as a 3.5 instead of a 3.0), and an extra ten points on your net grade point average which class rank is based off of. However, the biggest reason to take an AP class is to succeed on the corresponding AP test in May and receive college credit for the class.

The AP exams are scored on a 1-5 scale; generally 10% of people get 5’s, 20% of people get 4’s, 20% of people get 3’s, and the remaining 50% receive either a 1 or a 2. The College Board, the organization that creates the tests each year, designs the exams and scoring system in an effort to only give approximately half of the people that take the test college credit, which at most universities is a 3 or higher.. However, if you have a good work ethic in the course throughout the year and then study heavily prior to the test, a 3 or higher is definitely attainable.

If you pace yourself with AP classes starting freshman year, it is very possible to come out of high school as a sophomore in college – which would save anywhere between $5,000 to $40,000 depending on the university. A suggested AP course schedule to complete this task is as follows: one AP class freshman year, two sophomore year, 3-4 junior year, and 2-4 senior year. Each exam that you score well on gives you anywhere from 3-6 credit hours – keep in mind a full year of college consists of 30 hours. So this means that to complete a full year from AP exams requires passing about 7-9 of these tests. Although you do have to pay to take the exam – about $95 per test – that is a heck of a lot better than paying thousands for the first year in college.

Join Math Team

You may be discouraged from joining the math team because you don’t think you’re not good at it, but like many other things in life, you can get better at math by working hard at it and with the proper attitude. All you need is a love of math, the desire to make yourself better, and a winning attitude. If you don’t like math, then maybe joining math team can change your opinion on math. At math competitions, you commonly get problems that require you to think outside the box and think of creative solutions, unlike traditional high school math. If you are interested or just want to try it out, talk to your school’s math team coach and ask him or her about joining the team. He or she would be more than willing to help you out. If your school doesn’t have a team and you want to start one, take initiative and find a teacher who is willing to sponsor and coach a math team. There are lots of math competitions in Georgia every year, where you get a chance at showing off your math skills, finding opportunities to improve, and simply having fun. If you see a problem you don’t understand, don’t feel discouraged. If you are willing to learn the tricks, you will get better and better at it, and eventually, if you do consistently well at math competitions, you can make it on one of Georgia’s state ARML teams, where the best are selected from all over Georgia to compete in a competition involving teams from all over the US and even from other countries, like Colombia and China. You get to interact with kids who love math just like you from all over Georgia and stay at a dorm at the University of Georgia to #DoMaTh and/or socialize with the kids and compete for a chance for fun and international glory.

Mathematical Induction

Why I Don’t Like Mathematical Induction

Everybody has opinions, and you can even have opinions about math. I, for one, don’t particularly like the method of mathematical induction. Why? Because it doesn’t completely tell you “why”. For example, you can use mathematical induction to prove that 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … + n = n(n+1)/2. Great, we know that the formula works, but where does the formula come from? A much more elegant method to prove that formula is derivation. There are many ways to derive that formula, and one method is by writing 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … + n forwards and backwards and by adding them together twice. That way, you can see how twice the sum would be n(n+1) (see the visual), so the sum would be n(n+1)/2. By deriving the formula, you see why the formula is the way it is, and you’ll be able to connect the formula to the nature of the series. Also, mathematical induction is not a method to make equations, as it can only be used if the equation is given. With induction, you may prove old equations, but with derivation, you’ll be able to make new equations.

Pythagorean Triplets

Cool Thing About Pythagorean Triplets

There is a cool property of all odd numbers except one, they can all form Pythagorean triplets. A Pythagorean triplet is any set of positive integers a, b, and c that satisfy the equation a2 + b2 = c2. For example, a= 3, b= 4, and c= 5 is a Pythagorean triplet because 32 + 42 = 52. If a is any odd number except 1, it can make a Pythagorean Triplet of the form a= a, b= (a2 – 1)/2, and c= (a2 – 1)/2 + 1, or b + 1. You can prove this by substituting b and c with b= (a2 – 1)/2 and c= (a2 – 1)/2 + 1 in the equation a2 + b2 = c2. “a” cannot be even for this case because if a were even, (a2 -1)/2 would not be a whole number, and a cannot be one, because then, b would be zero. For all other odd numbers, this would work, and Pythagorean Triplets of this form include…

a= 5, b= 12, c= 13

a= 7, b= 24, c= 25

a= 9, b= 40, c= 41

Setting Goals

Setting Goals for the Semester

As you progress through a semester, it is important to continuously assess your progress and set new goals for yourself. This is an important thing to do because it makes you more aware of how you are performing and helps you to create a focused path for the remainder of the term. Furthermore, setting goals helps you to better organize your limited time and resources available as well as improve your motivation

Assess Your Progress:

The first step to goal-setting is to assess your current progress. This includes knowing the grades you have received as well as the study habits you used to get them. Make a note of whether you have been doing things like reading the textbook, taking notes in class, completing your homework or thoroughly reviewing before tests. It is also important to assess how well you understand the course material as well as if your grades match your perceived understanding.

Decide What You Want from the Class:

Before setting defined goals, it is important to think about what you want to get out of the class. Do you want a good grade to raise your GPA? Do you want a strong foundation on a topic that will be important later in your curriculum? Do you want to be more knowledgeable about a subject that interests you? Knowing what you specifically want from a course will give you the motivation to keep focused and continue to work hard.

Setting Goals:

Now that you know how you are doing in your courses and what you want to gain from them, it is time to set goals for yourself.

Set goals for things you would like to see occur. For example, maintaining or improving your grades, study habits or your understanding of certain topics. It is important that your goals are both reasonable and specific to keep you motivated and focused.

In addition to setting goals, you need to create a plan to help you reach them. To get the grades that you want, you must understand what study habits you will need to have. Also, you must assess if you need extra help and find out what resources are available to you. The internet may have additional explanations and examples of topics. Additionally, your teacher may be able to give you additional help outside of class. Don’t forget that MaThCliX is also a great resource!

Once you’ve set goals and created a plan for yourself, you will be on track for a focused and productive term. Following the ideas discussed above will help you stay motivated while providing with the skills and resources to get the most out the courses you are taking.

 

 

Master the Digits of Pi

Three Strategies to Conquer MaThCliX Digits of Pi Contest

On March 14th, MaThCliX will be hosting our third annual Pi Day, which is filled with a variety of activities for students of all ages. The most anticipated event of the day is the “Digits of Pi” Contest. The rules are simple: whoever wants to participate merely has to recite as many digits of Pi, the famous irrational number, as they can (in order, of course). The person that says the most digits of Pi accurately wins a Pi Day t-shirt and a pie/cake! Good luck to everyone competing; I hope you find these tips useful! (P.S. make sure you have the correct digits of Pi pulled up on your phone or computer while attempting to memorize it.)

Strategy #1:

One way to memorize the digits of Pi effectively is through auditory learning. Look at the first 5 digits of Pi and say each one of them out loud. Repeat the process four more times while still looking at the correct form of Pi to guide you. Then look away and try to say the five digits by memory. If you get it correct the first time, then repeat it four more times while looking away. However, if you get it wrong the first time, look back at the correct form and repeat the five digits five times while looking again. Next, attempt to say it five times without looking (successfully this time, hopefully). Repeat these steps until you feel like you have those five digits glued to your brain. If you can use this strategy every day for 10 days before the contest, you will have memorized the first 50 digits of Pi!

Strategy #2:

Carry around a piece of paper with Pi written on it. Whenever you have a minute to spare either in the classroom or at home, take out the piece of paper and begin writing the digits of Pi by memory, as many as you can do. Then look at the correct form of Pi and assess how you did. Next, write it again, maybe this time adding one or two digits on to the end. If you make this a habit for a week or two before the contest, you are bound for success.

Strategy #3:

This final strategy is based off the idea that it is easier to remember numbers that have a purpose rather than a random sea of numbers. What you do is assign phone numbers to each set of ten digits in Pi and then attempt to memorize each phone number. It helps to set patterns within the phone numbers to better remember them: make the first letter of the name for the first phone number an “A”, the first letter of the name for the second phone number a “B”, etc. Also, try making the numbers of letter in each name correspond with the first number in that phone number. Try memorizing one phone number every 2 days, and in 10 days you will know 50 digits.

Everyone is different, so a technique that works for one person might not work for another. Experiment with different memorization techniques and find which one works best for YOU. Also, just a reminder: last year’s winner recited 108 digits of Pi. Good luck, and we’ll see you on March 14th!

Keeping Focused in Classes You Don’t Enjoy

By Tyler Mathena

Nobody likes every subject in school. Teachers love to pretend that their subject is fascinating to everybody because they like it, but it is pretty clear that is not the case. Many students are passionate about history, others prefer english, and some (like myself) love math and science. As a student, I know how difficult it is to justify learning material in classes that aren’t your favorite, but it is important to learn every subject.

Every subject, regardless of how bizarre or boring, can be applied to real life. Math is everywhere, every job has to write occasionally, and past events are extremely relevant and can help you understand why the world is the way that it is. Also, learning to pay attention and feign interest in these subjects can help you learn how to learn. In your future job, no matter what it is, there will be things you have to learn that you may think are not important. Learning these subjects that you do not like in school makes learning these skills much easier and can make you seem mature to your employer.

Additionally, if you walk into a class convinced that you are going to despise it, then you will. Keep an open mind and maybe you will be surprised. I have a history of disliking social studies classes, so I was not hopeful when I walked into the first day of Microeconomics. I kept an open mind though, and it turned out to be my favorite class of the semester. That single class inspired me to minor in business in college. Keeping an open mind can be tough when you know that you dislike similar classes, but it definitely pays off in the long run.

I know better than anyone that it is hard to stay awake in that one terrible class (we all have one!). Lucky for you, I have learned and stolen some tricks over the years that can make any class bearable. My best advice is to find a study partner. It is better if your partner enjoys the class because often their enthusiasm for the subject can rub off on you. Even if you both aren’t a fan of the class, simply studying with a friend can help. If you absolutely do not get along with anyone in the class, it can sometimes help to talk to the teacher before or after school and get them to honestly explain to you why they enjoy their subject. Again, the enthusiasm may rub off on you, or they may convince you that it is important by bringing something up that you never thought about.

If it is math that is not your thing, do not worry, you have MaThCliX! All of us here love math and it shows. Coming in often, even if you do not enjoy it at first, will make math (or any subject) at least bearable, if not phenomenal.

Study Habits 

“I don’t write it down to remember it later, I write it down to remember it now.” Umberto Eco

Here are a few of my ideas to help you study, take notes, and learn.

  1. Take copious and detailed notes, especially in math and science. The more detailed and clear, with diagrams, the better. The process of making the drawing/diagrams and taking the notes will cement the concepts in your brain. It is almost like you are writing on a whiteboard in your brain that you can refer back to when you need it. The reason this works is because you are using multiple senses to learn and you are focusing to do it correctly.
  2. If you have questions that arise, write them down in your notes and make sure you ask the questions as soon as possible. Interaction with the teacher will help you learn the material and how important the subject is to the teacher. If you can ask the questions during the class lecture time, do so: you will not be the only person with the question, and it will encourage others to ask helpful questions. It is my opinion that the only bad question is the one that is not asked.
  3. Dedicate a specific time and place for studying. A special quiet place without distractions is best. MaThCliX provides such a place and many of our best students take advantage of the environment to do their work. For many, even if they intend on doing their math work at home, there are a host of distractions awaiting in that familiar environment. In college, we called the distraction of our bed the ‘rack monster’, so we were more productive in the library away from our familiar spaces.
  4. This is controversial, but I believe, and many studies show, that music causes enough distraction to defocus and make you less productive in studying. It can be used when you take a break to recharge your brain, but during intense study, absolute quiet is best.
  5. You may not know this, but your attitude have a huge effect on your success in learning a subject/topic. If you go into a topic with eagerness, wanting to learn and master it, you will be a lot more successful than if you do it begrudgingly, not wanting to learn it, or hating the subject. You will do a lot better if you trick yourself into finding something to enjoy in the subject. Finding some other subject that is related can help you find a mental link to hang the new facts on.

There are a lot more suggestions, but practicing these will help you as you study.

Stay Sharp Over Breaks

Stay Sharp Over Breaks

Every teacher’s worst nightmare is to come back to a classroom of students in desperate need of review material after having a long break.  Likewise, no student wants to be left behind after returning from their break because they have forgotten things learned in the fall.  Here are some tips to help you stay sharp over your breaks to avoid an unpleasant return to the classroom.

  • Spend at least 10 minutes each day redoing problems from your finals study guides until you have completed it again.
    • These study guides are reusable!  Try making an extra copy before completing it the first time, or simply cover the answers to work through it again.
  • Make flashcards of important vocabulary, formulas, or rules (hint: it’s on your final, it will likely be important for the rest of the school year)!
    • These can be made on index cards, or using an app such as Quizlet, to have in an easy, on-the-go format.
  • Read over your textbook or course material for 10 minutes each day to stay on top of the information.
    • This won’t take long and will keep the relevant material fresh in your mind.
  • Involve your friends and classmates with your reviews!
    • Everything is more fun with a friend, so get someone to quiz you to insure you’re at the top of your game.
  • Make it a competition!
    • A little friendly competition between friends is a great motivator! Form teams and race for the answer, or compete head to head and see who can get the most right answers in a session!
  • Come visit your MaThCliX family!
    • We are here to support you in all your academic needs.  We’ll run flashcards with you, help you complete your reviews, understand textbook concepts, and quiz you to get you ready for your return to class.

“You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”
-Abraham Maslow

In order to learn and grow, you have to step out of your comfort zone.  To help you “step forward into growth” your MaThCliX family will be beside you to cheer you on and support you in every step you take.  Don’t step backward into safety this break or any break, use these tips and become the best you you can be!