An issue that is important to us, why it is so, and what are we doing about it….

Hi, I am Om Desai.  As of March-2018, I am a 8th grade student in New Providence Middle School of New Providence, NJ USA

One of the main issues that is important to me is the fact that kids don’t get as many opportunities to learn as older people. For example, kids are forced to learn an easy, unchallenging curriculum, and younger kids don’t have the opportunity to learn subjects like physics in school simply because of their age. The school system also assumes that how smart you are is determined by your age, even though the only reason older people sometimes know more is that they probably may have more access to knowledge. This assumption of the school system is not always true. For example, there are adults who honestly still think that Africa and Europe are countries and that they speak African and European, while there are first graders who can tell you the capital of most countries. Even though the first grader is much smarter than the adult, the adult is given more opportunities like access to college courses or the ability to do useful intellectual work for society simply because they are older.

Younger kids are told that any number of interesting subjects they want to learn are too hard for them and that they should go learn some easy thing that they’ve already learned, like the alphabet. This ends up giving kids less motivation to learn (which is the reason that some kids don’t learn anything past what school teaches them) by telling them that they can’t learn anything harder than what they are explicitly taught.  When I was five and mentioned that I was not getting enough opportunities, older people thought that was “cute” that I used the big word “opportunities”. We think this is “cute” only because we as a nation, are clearly underestimating the huge opportunity costs associated with the invisible brain drain happening at the most unlikely places, called elementary schools, and this needs to be changed.

My venture to implement helpful change

To implement helpful change in the system, it is essential for us to change the mindsets in terms of what is possible, and what can be done.  I believe that most limits imposed by adults in terms of what is possible for kids to learn are purely perceptual. I want to change these narratives about what young minds can learn if they are given opportunities and access. I want to redefine what is possible.

I have taken some steps to implement helpful change already, as I’ve joined with friends (Gyan Ghoda and Siddhant Desai) to create a team known as Team AIRO (Website: http://airobotics.us/ ), and we’ve implemented a system with an unique concept “Young Students Teach Younger Kids”. We first follow our passion to learn and fully grasp challenging concepts and subjects, and then brainstorm ideas to make it fun and easy to understand for younger kids. We teach subjects like programming, robotics, artificial intelligence, mobile app development, and most recently Rubik’s cube solving to kids ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade. We also mentor team of younger kids to participate in various STEM competitions.  This helps the kids, as they’re able to learn fun topics that aren’t covered in school for them simply because of their age.

The kids we teach & mentor pick up stuff very quickly, but schools only start teaching even basic programming in middle school. We’ve honestly been surprised at how easily kindergartners or first graders can pick up so called “advanced” concepts for their age such as coordinate geometry and logical operators. We’ve had 2nd graders create programs that can solve any type of maze using artificial intelligence. These concepts aren’t taught in school, as the school system believes that it is “impossible” for young kids to learn concepts like this.  We also collaborate with non-profit organizations who focus on underprivileged younger kids to involve them Science Technology Mathematics & Engineering (STEM) related learning & activities.

We love to see young students having so much fun learning cool stuff and feeling truly proud of what they can accomplish. Some of these young talented students are very enthusiastic to join our extended team to teach it forward to bring the needed change.  Our classes, and the young kids projects presentations posted on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UConGhZmy33yxIsRWknoJvBg) showcases the potential that young minds can accomplish and how much older people are underestimating these talents.

We have a vision of continue to reach new heights in terms of redefining what is possible and changing and spreading these narratives, so that the next time a five year old mentions that he is not getting enough opportunities, older people will not think that’s “cute”.

References

 

 

googology (what?, what is that?)

For Age Group: grade 3 & up

Hey everyone, and welcome to my blog – again!

This time, let’s start with a question: What’s the largest number you can think of? (No, saying infinity is not allowed). A million? A billion? A trillion? If you wanted to, you could start with a 1 and write zeros until you get tired, and that could be your answer.  But think: There are probably smarter ways to do this. One way would be to only write 9s until you get tired, making your number bigger. Now let’s say you don’t want to keep writing until your hands get tired. You could use multiplication, so instead of writing 1000000, you could write 1000 *1000.

This is the principle of googology: coming up with smart ways to make bigger numbers. For example, some older readers might have thought of using exponents.(For those of you who don’t know about exponents, think about how multiplication is repeated addition. Exponents are like that, meaning they are just repeated multiplication, and they tell you how many times to use a number in multiplication, just like 3*2 is 3+3, 3^2 is 3*3. Another example would be how just like 5*3 is 5+5+5, 5^3 is 5*5*5).

So how did I get interested in a relatively obscure field like googology? It all started when I was young, and I had come across a webpage explaining Graham’s number (You can research Graham’s number on your own, asking your parents for permission first, of course, but to put it in simple terms, it’s really, really big). I was fascinated by the idea of a number that insanely large and started wondering if there were bigger numbers. This led me into a spiral where I discovered a wiki made specifically for googology, and started learning more about it. (I actually got the idea for this blog by finding something I wrote about googology in my third grade notebook, next to the word “quack” repeated over and over again).

So why would you learn googology? Later in life, you might encounter some particularly hard math problems, and you’re going to end up with a really big solution and so you’d need to know a way to notate that. In addition, searching for the largest number can help hone your math skills and help you discover new principles that you might use later. For example, some of you probably learned about exponents by reading this blog about googology.

By the way, this is the video that started my obsession with googology:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTeJ64KD5cg&feature=youtu.be

And for your amusement, this is a joke article about googology: https://sites.google.com/site/largenumbers/home/appendix/e/easter (Don’t worry if you don’t recognize some words, or you see a fact you don’t think is correct; a lot of words are made up, and it is just a joke.)

Also, googology wiki page: http://googology.wikia.com/wiki/Googology_Wiki

 

Have a great summer everyone. Hope you are enjoying the good weather so far.

Om Desai

 

First Blog :)

For Age Group:  Everyone

Hey everyone, welcome to my first blog.  My name is Om Desai (https://www.linkedin.com/in/omdesai). I just finished seventh grade at New Providence Middle School (I’m starting my summer vacation, which is super-exciting), and at the time of writing this, I am 12 years old. I’m one of the founders of Team AIRO, along with my friends Gyan Ghoda (http://gyanghoda.com/) and Siddhant Desai. I’ve been passionate about programming, robotics, and mathematics since a young age. More recently, I’ve also been interested in chess and Rubik’s Cube solving, and I’m part of the school orchestra, playing viola. In my spare time I make games, study googology and cryptography, and, of course, watch YouTube.

We’re all extremely passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), and we want to share this passion with the rest of the world via this blog, and we’re also hoping that you might like some new things from these blogs, and share them with the rest of the world. We’ll update every now and then, with me, Gyan, and Siddhant writing the posts. We’ll mostly blog about STEM-related topics we feel would interest young readers, lead you to learning something new and fun, and encourage you to continue loving STEM.

Why are we writing this blog? Let me tell you a story from when I was in elementary school.

Basically everyone in my elementary school hated math, and for good reason. Our math teacher would get up, write something on the board which no one actually read, and then sit back down and tell us to do pages in our workbook. I loved math, but I was still bored out of my mind, and eventually resorted to jumping off chairs (something our math teacher never noticed!) after I finished every page in the workbook by the first two months.  The math class led to some of my friends – who loved math earlier, by the way – vandalize their workbooks so they read “Go Away Math” instead of “Go Math”, which I think was quite clever and funny. I was lucky to have really good teachers for science, though, and I did have good math teachers every so often, but I’ve heard that people who weren’t as lucky with their science teachers as me felt similarly with science.

That’s why the goal of Team AIRO is to show kids that not all STEM is that boring, and that there are some really interesting and fun things out there to learn. I promise there are some really cool stuff you’ll learn from these blogs, mixed in with fun and humor. People of all ages, from young children to adults, can find out something new and have fun doing it. It’ll be great!

So, stick around.  Keep visiting us.  We’ll post on Facebook as soon as a new blog is published, so adults associated with Team AIRO on Facebook will be able to let their children know.

Have a great start of your summer vacation.  And enjoy this video about what we did with a robot:

🙂