This press release was originally published in the BCPS Newsroom. Scroll down for videos of both lectures.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., June 10, 2019 — Kevin Knudson, professor and chair of the University of Florida (UF) Department of Mathematics and UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, recently presented two mathematics lectures to sixth through ninth grade students and graduates of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) EMF Math program. More than 100 students and parents attended the special event, hosted by the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science.
EMF Math or Elements of Mathematics: Foundations, is an advanced online curriculum for students in grades six through eight.
Samantha Carozzi, an eighth-grade student studying EMF Math at Pioneer Middle School, raved about how much she enjoyed Professor Knudson’s talk. “I learned so many interesting new ideas in his presentation and how they connect in unexpected ways,” said Carozzi.
Professor Knudson became interested in BCPS EMF Math students after learning about the unusually advanced math courses students take in middle school. The District launched the program in 2015 to give top students the opportunity to learn university-level mathematics, such as group theory, while also covering pre-algebra through precalculus.
“The mathematical maturity of these students is astonishing.” — Kevin Knudson, Professor of Mathematics
“The mathematical maturity of these students is astonishing,” said Professor Knudson. “While only in middle school they have a grasp of abstract topics that most undergraduates do not see until their second or third year at the university. Some of them will no doubt go on to be professional mathematicians, but all of them stand to benefit from the advanced mathematical reasoning skills they are learning no matter what field they choose as adults.”
“BCPS is to be commended for their commitment to these talented young men and women, and the EMF staff should be very proud of the work they are doing to help these kids reach their full potential,” added Knudson.
Guy Barmoha, director of Secondary Learning at BCPS, is thrilled to see the District’s EMF Math students making their mark on the world. “Our students are getting an amazing math education, which led to a world-class university professor wanting to meet them,” said Barmoha. “I’m proud to be part of a District that provides these kinds of learning opportunities.”
EMF Math graduates who enroll in a District high school and pass UF’s math placement exam, are allowed to take calculus courses through UF’s Online Dual Enrollment (DE) program as ninth-graders, two years earlier than usual. Students may take up to eight UF DE courses throughout high school.
Maximilliano Novak de Vries, an EMF Math graduate who is now a freshman at Cooper City High School, plans to complete all of his college math requirements by the end of his junior year of high school. “The head start I get from UF DE will allow me to focus on engineering when I am in college,” said Novak de Vries. “My goal is reachable because I participated in EMF Math.”
While Professor Knudson taught students about a variety of topics — the Fujimoto Approximation, “binary” decimals, the Wallis Sieve — parents attended their own presentation by Litza Echeverria Rubio from UF’s Online Dual Enrollment Department. Echeverria Rubio guided parents through the dual enrollment process at UF and answered general questions about the University’s admissions process.
“The presentation on UF’s dual enrollment program for EMF Math students came at the perfect time and addressed all of my questions and concerns,” said parent Cathy Ingemanson. “I am thankful to BCPS, EMF Math and UF for providing this amazing opportunity and supporting our children.”
Iain Ferguson, director of EMF Math, has watched the program grow as more public school districts seek cost-effective ways to shift the emphasis from rote memorization to creative problem-solving skills. “Students today need a math education that prepares them to think flexibly and take on problems in a wide variety of fields, even ones that don’t yet exist,” explained Ferguson. “That’s exactly what we designed EMF Math to do.”
For additional information about EMF Math or other great mathematics instruction opportunities that BCPS provides, contact Ann-Marie Evans, math curriculum supervisor, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 754-321-2119.
Teachers and administrators not in Broward County Public Schools who wish to gain free access for their students to the first EMF Math course may register at https://www.EMFmath.com/schools.
ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.
ABOUT INSTITUTE FOR MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
The Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (IMACS) is an independent teaching and educational research institute with centers in South Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, and Connecticut. Over 4,500 students from across the US and around the world attend local IMACS classes or study its online courses. For more information, visit imacs.org or EMFmath.com. Connect with IMACS and EMF Math on Facebook at facebook.com/eimacs and facebook.com/emfmath.
Photos by Matias Ocner.
For more by Professor Knudson, including the My Favorite Theorem podcast, visit kpknudson.com.
The UF Dual Enrollment program helps eligible accelerated high school students access coursework at the University of Florida from their home district.
Commentary by EMF Graduates
EMF Math vs. The Traditional Approach to Learning Mathematics by Cole Travers
Gifted EMF Alumna Shares Advice for Current & Future Students by Isabella Yeung
EMF Insights by Olivia
PLANTATION, Fla., Mar. 6, 2019 — Representatives from the University of Florida (UF) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) met with more than 150 middle school students and parents in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) last week to describe the exciting opportunities they are offering to graduates of Broward’s Elements of Mathematics: Foundations (EMF Math) program.
EMF Math is an online curriculum that teaches pre-algebra through precalculus plus advanced topics in modern mathematics to students in grades 6-8. BCPS, the sixth largest public school district in the US, is in its fourth year of offering the program to bright students across a diverse mix of 31 middle schools. Schools and districts interested in licensing EMF Math should contact the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (IMACS) at https://www.EMFmath.com/schools.
Many of the Broward’s EMF Math graduates are excelling as ninth graders in either Calculus I/II at UF through its dual enrollment program or in Advanced Placement Calculus at their local public high schools.
Brandon Case, UF’s Coordinator for Curriculum and Special Programs, said that EMF Math gives BCPS students early access to UF’s dual enrollment program. “They are programs primarily for [high school] juniors and seniors,” noted Case, “But we’ve worked with the district, and EMF students are allowed to participate for one math course per term as of their freshman year.”
According to Case, the first cohort of EMF Math graduates taking UF Calculus I/II are, broadly speaking, doing quite well. Ninth grader and EMF Math graduate Zachary Weissman completed UF Calculus I with an outstanding grade of 106%. “I absolutely loved Calculus I, and I am enjoying Calculus II,” said Weissman. “I believe this program will be extremely beneficial for the EMF eighth graders, and I strongly recommend it.”
Andreas VanDenend, Assistant Director for UF’s Online Dual Enrollment Program, described the support system that UF provides to EMF Math graduates. “At the University of Florida, we do a whole lot for the students to make sure they are not drifting around in UF systems,” he assured parents. “We make sure students have their right login, their UF identification number, all that they’ll need to get started on the first day of class.”
Professor Stephen Locke, Associate Chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at FAU, noted that EMF graduates can take dual enrollment classes during the summer at FAU. Some parents thought this might be an attractive option for students who want to take classes that UF doesn’t offer online or who would like to have a local professor.
Parents in attendance were mainly seeking advice on navigating the uncertain road of high school and college coursework. Many of them found the presentations to be very informative and appreciated that these universities were already taking an interest in their middle school children.
IMACS is currently offering schools and districts the opportunity to provide the first EMF Math course to an unlimited number of students at no cost. Teachers and administrators may request access by registering at https://www.EMFmath.com/schools.
The Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science is an independent teaching and educational research institute with centers in South Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Connecticut. Over 4,500 students from across the US and around the world attend local IMACS classes or study its online courses. For more information, visit https://www.imacs.org/.
Cole Travers completed the EMF Math program during grades 6-8 through his public school district. He wrote the following guest blog post in which he compares EMF with a traditional high school math class and explains why EMF was excellent preparation for college.
Throughout my three years in EMF, I got to learn mathematics in the way that a mathematician understands it. Now that I am in 9th grade and in a traditional math class, I can compare this experience to my EMF experience. The main difference is that EMF focused on the why of math, while traditional classes focus on the how of math.
In EMF, I was not just given statements of mathematical laws and properties and told to use them. EMF always made those formulas available, even during the major tests at the end of sections. Instead, I actually had to prove why they are true using logic. Proofs challenged my perspective on math and while they made math many times more difficult, they also made it many times more enjoyable and satisfying.
My EMF experience made me want to keep learning the “why” behind the formulas and graphs that I see now in my traditional class, but, unfortunately, I don’t get to do that. To do well, I simply memorize a few formulas or graphs and apply them on homework, periodic quizzes, and unit tests. I can forget them as soon as we’re done with the unit, because they never come up again.
At first, the more challenging part of a traditional class was doing a lot of calculations quickly. In EMF, quizzes and tests were untimed due to their difficulty and the unimportance of speed in true mathematics. Now I have one class period, or around 45 minutes, to finish a quiz or a test. At the beginning of the semester, using formulas two dozen times in 45 minutes was not something I was used to. But after a short time and a little practice, it got easier. I also now see that going the other direction — understanding concepts deeply when you’ve been taught to be fast — is much harder.
Because I only have to memorize and apply formulas in my traditional class, the advanced skills that I learned in EMF — digging deep into a concept, solving problems creatively, and writing proofs — are not directly applicable right now. EMF certainly does not hurt in any way, and it will help in college math courses because they are more about actually understanding math. Plus the advanced material in EMF just made it really interesting. I probably would have been completely bored in math all through middle school if I had not been in EMF.
Another difference is that in EMF, the ideas were interconnected and made sense as part of a bigger picture. As I learned new concepts in EMF, I also learned how they linked back to previous concepts. In order to solve EMF’s most complex problems, I usually had to bring old and new ideas together and come up with a new way to apply them.
On a related point, how I learned to think in EMF actually helps me in classes other than math. The way EMF taught me to delve deeper and to layer new knowledge onto prior knowledge enabled me to do better than many of my peers in Biology Honors, for example. As with EMF, this is quite a challenging class and the material builds on itself. EMF helped me in ways bigger than mathematics by teaching me how to learn difficult subjects. I think I will be much better prepared to succeed in college because of EMF.
Current EMF students should feel confident that they will do well in traditional high school math classes, even though these classes are very different from EMF. Understanding the material in high school math classes isn’t hard at all. Students just have to use a different approach, mainly memorization and application. I would encourage middle school students to enjoy EMF as much as they can because it is definitely the most interesting way to learn math that I have ever experienced.
More Commentary by EMF Graduates
EMF Insights by Olivia
EMF Math is an online curriculum designed for talented middle school students. EMF covers Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Precalculus, plus advanced topics in modern mathematics. Would you like your public or private school to offer EMF? Share EMF school licensing information with your school’s math curriculum specialist. For EMF news, like EMF Math at facebook.com/emfmath.
Isabella Yeung completed the EMF Math program during grades 6-8 through her public school district. She wrote the following guest blog post to share her memories of the program and advice for current and future EMF students.
EMF truly is an amazing program. (No, I’m not saying this just because; I mean it with all my heart.) Looking back at the last three years, I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in EMF. Unquestionably, I have grown from when I was a 6th grader just starting EMF. This rigorous program has expanded my knowledge about the world of mathematics, stimulated my brain cells, boosted my confidence level, and let me grow as a student.
In fact, because of EMF and the support of my teachers and EMF professors, I scored 100% on the University of Florida Dual Enrollment math placement exam on my first try. Thanks to my score, I will be taking UF’s Calculus 1 and Analytical Geometry course as a 9th grader.
EMF has played a crucial role in my academic life and in my social life as well; I have created numerous everlasting memories with my best friend who was also in EMF at the same school. (As EMF students, we sat in classrooms with non-EMF students doing the usual accelerated math.) My friend and I gave each other encouragement when EMF exercises were difficult, and we amused each other with our imaginations during the regular classroom lessons.
There is definitely a noticeable difference between EMF students and those who don’t take EMF. My math teachers certainly noticed it. Whenever teachers would give my best friend and me a math test along with the rest of their class, we would score the highest in the class even though we didn't pay much attention to the regular lessons and barely studied for these tests.
In 7th grade when my friend and I were in the Algebra 2 Honors classroom, we would finish our EMF work and then quietly make up crazy stories and comics to keep from getting bored by the regular lesson. We both got the top scores of our class on the end-of-course exam because of EMF. He got a near-perfect score, while I got a perfect score. The experience in 8th grade was similar. When the teacher would warn us about a Geometry quiz happening the next day, my friend and I would usually just skim through the regular textbook chapter for 10 minutes that night and obtain the highest marks in the class, either a 100% or just one question off.
Thus, if you stay on schedule with EMF, the content definitely prepares you for school math finals or state math exams. But mostly, it’s the way of critical thinking and logic skills that EMF instilled in me that has ensured my success on the tests and exams.
Let me be frank; this course is not for the faint of heart. Sure, you might find it challenging, frustrating, and downright annoying at times, but this is all part of the growing and learning process. This is a program that forces you to look at concepts from multiple perspectives and drives you to think outside the box. It seriously takes your processing and logic skills to the next level! Because of this, my analytical skills have definitely been refined to a sharp point.
The three most important traits you need to possess in order to succeed in EMF are resolve, perseverance, and dedication. If you have these three things, you will undoubtedly make it through the program and earn the title of “EMF Graduate.” No matter how puzzling and infuriating a problem might seem, you must not give up until you have solved it. The satisfaction you get when you have accurately unraveled a seemingly impossible exercise is unparalleled. EMF requires that you work diligently and prepares you mentally for most, if not all, obstacles you will face in high school and beyond. If you do end up procrastinating on EMF, you will have to work very hard to catch up. (I know this from experience, having spent some of my school holidays to get back on track.)
As a word of advice to future and current EMF students: Know that there are no shortcuts in EMF. Work hard. In the end, the rewards you reap will surely be worth it. I have not and absolutely will not ever regret partaking in EMF. It has paved a plethora of new roads, ones that I will readily embark upon. I encourage you all to march on and face EMF head-on. Best of luck to all!
More Commentary by EMF Graduates
EMF Math vs. The Traditional Approach to Learning Mathematics by Cole Travers
EMF Insights by Olivia
Nik attended IMACS from 1st through 12th grade and completed Math Enrichment, Computer Enrichment, Hi-Tech Summer Camp, and university-level courses in Computer Science and Logic for Mathematics. He earned straight A’s in high school, scored 790 on the math section of the SAT, and was named a National AP Scholar after scoring 5’s on 13 AP exams. He also happens to be a virtuoso pianist.
Nik chose the University of Florida’s Honors Program where he was selected as a Stamps Scholar in recognition of his exceptional success in leadership, service, and academics. As an undergraduate in UF’s Biomedical Engineering program, he completed research in both biomedical engineering and gastroenterology while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Nik was accepted into the UF College of Medicine’s highly selective Medical Honors Program. In only his first year of medical school, he served as the Operations Coordinator for Gainesville’s Equal Access Clinic, the largest free clinic in the country run entirely by medical students. Nik will earn both his B.S. and M.D. degrees in seven years after which he plans to complete his residency in internal medicine and then specialize in cardiology.
“Logical reasoning and critical thinking are applicable both within and outside of mathematics. As a medical student, I use these skills every day to efficiently diagnose and effectively treat patients. I credit my many years at IMACS for growing these skills to their fullest potential.”
Shuli started taking IMACS courses in 6th grade after winning a scholarship to University Computer Science I through a coding camp for girls. She went on to complete University Computer Science II, AP Computer Science: Java Programming, and Logic for Mathematics. Shuli graduated high school with a near-perfect average of 98 and was named a National Merit Finalist. She scored a 5 on the AP Computer Science A exam and 1560 on the SAT, including 800 on the math section.
Shuli is a true Renaissance woman who competes in a wide variety of academic competitions. She and her teammates dominate the Canadian high school quizbowl circuit, most recently winning the prestigious Reach for the Top National Championship. At the annual Ontario Student Classics Conference, Shuli was named the Top Academic Pentathlete in each of her four years of high school and Top Academic Student in her senior year.
Shuli was accepted to MIT, Harvard, and Stanford. She chose MIT where she plans to major in Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science and minor in Classics.
“IMACS gave me such an early understanding of computer programming and logic that today, complex programming concepts are simply part of the way I think. This now-innate ability helps me succeed in all of my STEM classes and is something I would not have been able to learn anywhere else.”
Ty started taking IMACS Math Enrichment classes in 5th grade and went on to complete IMACS’ university-level courses in Computer Science and Logic for Mathematics. Ty cultivated a love for problem-solving and analytical thinking in high school, greatly enjoying AP Mathematics and Physics courses while applying those skills to creative outlets such as the advanced study of the Talmud (Jewish Oral Law).
As a student-athlete, Ty was a leader in the classroom and on the field. He and his teammates won the Technion’s 2017 Rube Goldberg Machine Challenge, an international competition, for which they were awarded one-year full scholarships. Ty’s pioneering performance in an independent course on Multivariable Calculus led his high school to establish a program allowing highly advanced students to study this challenging subject. A varsity soccer player for four years, Ty won MVP honors in 11th and 12th grade and was named a captain of the team in his senior year.
Ty was accepted early decision to Princeton University where he will major in Operations Research and Financial Engineering after taking a gap year to study abroad.
“IMACS taught me to simultaneously think critically and creatively, imbuing me with skills that assisted me throughout high school and played a fundamental role in my decision to pursue data analysis at Princeton University.â€
Ricky first attended IMACS in 2nd grade. Over the next 10 years he completed all levels of Math Enrichment and Computer Enrichment, Electronics, and university-level classes in Computer Science and Logic for Mathematics. Having scored 1580 on the SAT, 35 on the ACT, 800 on the SAT II subject tests in Math and Chemistry, and 5’s on AP exams in Calculus AB, Calculus BC and Chemistry, Ricky was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar.
During high school, Ricky channeled his talents and sharp focus through both academic and athletic endeavors. He qualified for the prestigious American Invitational Mathematics Examination, and he and his teammates competed in the Barry University Olympiad tournaments, earning 1st place team wins in Math and Chemistry. Ricky also works on developing ways to use computer programming to enhance research, as well as striving to improve his personal best times in track and cross-country.
Ricky was accepted at Rice University, University of Florida, University of Miami with a Singer Scholarship, and University of Southern California with a Presidential Scholarship. He chose Rice where he will major in Computational and Applied Mathematics followed by a Ph.D. and career in research.
“Taking IMACS classes from a young age gave me a clear advantage in math and computer science, but it also helped me excel in all other fields. I am able to approach complex problems with confidence because of what I learned at IMACS.”
The International History Olympiad (IHO) is a biennial, week-long celebration of history attended by some of the best young history students from around the world, featuring numerous individual and team based competitions.
At the recently concluded 3rd International History Olympiad (IHO) held in Berlin, Germany from July 14-22, 2018, EMF and eIMACS student, Shiva Oswal, won 5 Golds, 4 Silvers, and 2 Bronze medals, including the title of Overall Middle School Olympiad Champion.
The 2018 International History Olympiad was attended by over 200 History students with more than 30 global affiliations. Oswal was part of Team California that was the 2018 Medal Table Champion securing an impressive overall count of 40 medals. Oswal contributed over 25% to Team California's overall medal tally. Team India placed 2nd and Team Canada came in 3rd with 23 medals each.
The 2018 IHO closing ceremony was held at the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, Germany. "It was great to see Shiva proudly hold the California flag on more than ten occasions," said his dad, Vikas.
The Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (IMACS) is thrilled to announce that the Elements of Mathematics: Foundations (EMF) online program for talented middle school students is now complete with the release of the 18th and final EMF course, Precalculus Coda.
Precalculus Coda brings together topics from earlier EMF courses and expands on them with an extensive study of vectors in the real number plane and space, linear transformations (including orthogonal mappings), and matrices and their application in solving systems of equations.
Upon successful completion of the EMF program, students will have covered all national and state math standards for pre-algebra through precalculus but from an entirely modern mathematical approach. In addition, they will have enjoyed thorough introductions to college-level topics such as Abstract Algebra, Logic, Set Theory, Number Theory and Topology, and be well-prepared to excel in a college-level Calculus course.
Why Modern Mathematics
Mathematically talented students typically master school math with little effort. As a result, they tend to become bored with and disengaged from math if limited to traditional curriclum. They may also fail to develop the mental resiliency and study skills that come with having to work hard at math problems designed for their ability level.
The EMF curriculum is designed specifically to engage young, gifted thinkers in ways typically reserved for university math majors. It is useful to distinguish the two ways in which EMF is college-level: (1) the sophisticated use of logic and reasoning via proofs, and (2) the introduction of modern areas of mathematics such as Topology.
EMF incorporates all the concepts from a traditional curriculum but uses a logic and proof-based approach not usually entrusted to students until college. Talented middle school students who are intellectually mature and motivated can benefit from this more sophisticated approach; it fosters the development of creative thinking skills that are not easily replaced by computer processing power as algebraic manipulation skills already have. In other words, EMF prepares students with skills for the future, not skills of the past.
EMF's incorporation of exciting topics in modern mathematics—topics ignored by traditional school math—makes it far more interesting and intellectually engaging. These topics represent areas of active research as opposed to traditional school math subjects that were understood completely by the late 17th century. The idea of cutting off a child’s education in literature, history or science at the 17th century is ludicrous. The same applies to mathematics.
For children in many parts of the US and around the world, EMF now fulfills the promise of opening up access to a comprehensive, unified, proof-based approach to modern mathematics. IMACS certainly believes in the value of talented and dedicated teachers, but we also believe that lack of access to such teachers has unfairly limited for too many bright students the right to be challenged at their ability level on the way to achieving their full potential in mathematics. We aim to change that with EMF.
Course 1 < $20
In celebration of EMF's completion, tuition for the first course has been dropped to $19.95 (regularly $59.95) for a limited time. Through August 31, 2018, new families save 67% on the first EMF course or 25% on a bundle of all 18 courses. Visit EMFmath.com to learn more and enroll.
EMF in Schools
Did you know that numerous districts, schools and after-school programs license EMF? In fact, the first cohort of EMF students in Broward County Public Schools, Florida completed the program last year. As a result, many of them will be enrolling in Calculus as 9th graders this fall. If you would like to see EMF offered in your school, share the EMFmath.com/schools website with the relevant decision-makers in your district.
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