I’ve often thought that someone should start a math team for very young children who display an early passion for math and have yet to find their tribe. This idea recently resurfaced when two young boys I've known for years returned for achievement testing.
Both boys are six years old, one in Kindergarten and the other in first grade, and both performed at the level of a typical ninth grader on a measure of applied math. At home, their parents were watching their quantitative reasoning skills go “through the roof” while in school, their respective teachers had voiced concern that they were not connecting with peers.
While I myself have never had a particular penchant for math, as I witnessed these young children subtracting fractions and calculating proportions, profound feelings welled up in me that can only be compared to the experience of listening to a perfect symphony or poem that seems to bypass one's brain and go straight to one's soul.
Thankfully, it was soon after that that I crossed paths with Allan Yu, the founder of ASTEME, a nonprofit learning center that promotes a philosophy of “math for the mind, body, and spirit.”
Through ASTEME, which stands for the Advancement of Science, Technology, and Engineering in Math Education, Allan offers math/STEM and coding classes (including an all-girls class!) during school hours, as well as after school and Saturdays and weeklong camps throughout the summer.
Allan’s latest initiative is a math team for very young children called Fibonacci Kids, which he describes as “an incredible math journey.” The word on the street is that, during their first meeting, he and his fellow Fibonacci team members dove right into “hard math,” discussing g-force, pondering math riddles, testing gravity, and applying mathematical principles to the exploration of Oculus Rift virtual reality equipment.
When he’s not working directly with kids, Allan is actively exploring ways of adapting classroom-based math curricula so as to inspire all children to “live, love, and learn math.” In this regard, he has helped multiple schools develop and implement differentiated, dynamic project-based math programs, and he has recently been working on creating a math curriculum for homeschoolers.
If you’re interested in learning more about ASTEME, you can email Allan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website below.