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The Importance of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Today, the future depends on you as much as it does on me. The future also depends on educating the masses in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, otherwise known as STEM. As a new tutor to WyzAnt, I hope to instill the importance of these subjects in student's lives, as well as, the lives around them.    Besides the fact that,  "the average U.S. salary is $43,460, compared with the average STEM salary of $77,880," (Careerbuilder) these subjects are interesting and applicable to topics well beyond the classroom. Success first starts with you; I am only there to help you succeed along the way. STEM are difficult subjects. Yet when you seek out help from a tutor, like myself, you have what it takes to master them.    Please enlighten me on students looking to achieve and succeed rather than live in the past and think I can't as opposed to I can. We can take the trip to the future together, one question at a time

Developing Study Habits for Math Courses

The majority of the students that I have often have the same problem -- they aren't grasping the information fast enough or they aren't really able to follow the lessons a teacher gives.   Sometimes, teachers aren't adaptive to every learning style for each student in their classroom.  However, know that each student has the capability to learn math on their own.  It is just necessary to have key characteristics to make it successful.   Every math student should have: patience motivation adaptability organizational skills open communication between themselves and their teacher (inside and outside the classroom) breaks!! :)   Study Tips Always try to study outside of your home or dorm room. In our minds, those are places that we relax at and it can be difficult to turn your mind off from the distractions to study. Public libraries, universities, coffee shops, and bookstores are the way to go... read more

SAT Prep - Tackling Tough Math Questions

Nailing an 800 on the math portion of the SAT can be a tricky feat, even if you are steadfastly familiar with all of the requisite formulas and rules. A difficult problem can overwhelm even the most prepared individual come test day. Time constraints, test surroundings, and the overall weight of the exam can unnerve the most grounded students. So what do you do when panic strikes and your mind draws a blank? How do you re-center yourself and charge forward with ferocity and confidence? What you do is this: write everything down from the problem. This is the most important part of the problem solving process. As you peruse the question, write down the pertinent data and establish relationships by setting up equations. This exercise will help you see solutions that were previously difficult to decipher. As you work on practice tests and sample problems, you must work diligently to form a solid habit of writing down important bits of information as you plow through... read more

Ellen's Choice: Teach the Concept, Not the Algorithm

I hear a lot about math teachers from my students, and while every teacher is unique, some comments are repeated over and over. By far the most common one I hear is that their teacher didn't really explain something, or was incapable of elaborating when questioned and simply repeated the same lecture again. As a tutor, my first priority is to make sure the student understands the material, and if they're still confused, to find another way to explain it so that it makes sense. In order to do that, I need to have a thorough understanding of the concepts myself, so that I am not simply reading from a textbook but actually explaining a concept. In my years of tutoring math, I've developed a point of view and approach to math that I refer to as “teaching the concept, not the algorithm.” An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for calculation. The term is used in math and computer science, but the concept of an algorithm is universal. I could tell you that I have an algorithm... read more

The Power Of Willpower: Five Tips To Strengthen Your Discipline

Willpower is unique to humanity. It is the keystone characteristic that is directly responsible for our technological advancement over the last several hundred thousand years. Willpower can be defined as the capacity to restrain our impulses and resist temptation in order to maximize our long-term success. It is the expulsion of energy to fight off innate survival based urges to exponentially increase future advantages and benefits. It is the driving force behind all civilizations, and it is what prods humankind forward to learn and grow. When we turn down a bite of cheesecake, step away from a mind numbing reality sitcom, or push off a nap to get some work done, the credit goes to willpower. It is this ghost like aura of control and discipline that we rely on to extend our existence and maximize our accomplishments. When we watch highly successful individuals exercise routinely, read voraciously, and work tirelessly, we are impressed with their ability to resist... read more

Different Centers in a Triangle

This week in geometry one of my students is learning about the different "centers" in a triangle (orthocenter, circumcenter, incenter, etc), as well as the midsegments theorem and triangle inequalities.  To help him visualize why all of these things are true, I had him cut out an acute triangle, an obtuse triangle, and a right triangle and use these to illustrate the concepts.  For triangle inequalities, we worked with different lengths of string to see why some combination of leg lengths and some do not. These are both quick, easy ways that help students understand beyond the words and definitions what we are talking about!

Parallel, Skew, and Perpendicular Lines

I've found that most students have little to no difficulty understanding the difference between parallel and perpendicular lines when only one plane is involved. Either they never touch, or they intersect at a 90 degree angle, or they just plain intersect. This concept is relatively easy to visualize because it is completely 2 dimensional.  Where the difficulty lies, is visualizing these same types of lines when different planes are involved, since it is 3d. To help, I utilize flash cards, or small pieces of paper. Have students draw a series of lines on each flash cards, making sure there is at least a set of parallel lines, perpendicular lines, and intersecting lines on each, and give each line a name. Then move the flashcards in different ways, either stacking them or making parallel planes, and quiz them about the new relationships between the lines. 

High School Geometry: For Some, Why Is This More Challenging Than Algebra 1?

Several of my current Geometry students have commented on this very contrast.  This has prompted me to offer a few possible reasons.   First, Geometry requires a heavy reliance on explanations and justifications (particularly of the formal two-column proof variety) that involve stepwise, deductive reasoning.  For many, this is their first exposure to this type of thought process, basically absent in Algebra 1.   Second, a large part of Geometry involves 2-d and 3-d visualization abilities and the differences in appearance between shapes even when they are not positioned upright.  Still further, for a number of students, distinguishing the characteristic properties amongst the different shapes becomes a new challenge.   Third, in many cases Geometry entails the ability to form conjectures about observed properties of shapes, lines, line segments and angles even before the facts have been clearly established and stated... read more

Favorite Math Resources, K-12 + GED

Here are some of my favorite Math resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. As a note, college-level math textbooks are often helpful for high school math students. Why is that? Isn't that a little counter-intuitive? Yes, it would appear that way! However, many college-level math textbooks are written with the idea that many college students may not have taken a math class in a year or more, so they are written with more detailed explanations. This can be particularly helpful for high school students taking Algebra, Geometry, and Trig. I have a collection of college-level math books that I purchased at a local used bookstore. The most expensive used math book I own cost $26 used. Books that focus on standardized test prep (such as the SAT, AP, or GED prep) can be helpful for all core subjects, as they summarize key ideas more succinctly than 'normal' textbooks. These... read more

Intersecting Circles

This blog concerns how to determine the intersection between two circles in the plane algebraically. It is a problem that can crop up in a variety of situations, from gaming to tools for computer aided design to astronomy.    This problem is interesting because is it a conceptually simple problem whose algebraic formulation is nonetheless apparently complex: a system of non-linear equations that are quadratic in both variables. However, by doing some geometric analysis of the problem, and applying tools from vector geometry, we are lead to a specific mathematical transformation of the problem that radically simplifies it. The key idea turns out to be a specific change of basis.   My exposition of this uses a few diagrams (which are not supported by the blog editor) and a lot of mathematical expressions (which are clumsy to create in the blog editor), so I put it in an Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) document that you can access using the... read more

Proof that 3 non-collinear points determine a unique circle

Proof of the Assertion that Any Three Non-Collinear Points Determine Exactly One Circle This is an interesting problem in geometry, for a couple of reasons. First, you can apply some earlier, basic geometry principles; and secondly, you can choose two different strategies for solving the problem. The basic geometry underlying: any three non-collinear points determine a plane, somewhere in 3D space. Once that has been done, imagine that the plane has been rotated into the x-y plane, which will make the problem much easier to solve! The two strategies for solution are: (Proof A) actually solve to find the circle. This is equivalent to finding the center of the circle (finding the equation of the circle is simple from there). But, you actually have to do some math to get this! If, while doing this, there is no possibility to obtain other values for the coordinates of the center of the circle, you have proved the assertion as well as obtained a method (and perhaps... read more

How to find a distance between two parallel lines?-2

This is another way to find a distance between two parallel lines. This derivation was suggested to me by Andre and I highly recommend him and his answers to any student, who wants to learn math ans physics. This derivation requires the knowledge of trigonometry and some simple trigonometric identities, so this may be suitable for more advanced students.   Once again, we have two lines.   y=mx+b1  (1)--equation for the first line. y=mx+b2  (2)--equation for the second line.   Now recall that the slope of the line is the tangent of an angle this line forms with the x-axis. Indeed, m=(y2-y1)/(x2-x1), where x1, x2, y1, y2 are the x- and y-coordinates of any two distinct points on the line. If one draws the picture, it will be immediately obvious that m is the tangent of the angle between the line and the x-axis.   The difference b2-b1 gives the relative displacement along the y-axis of two lines... read more

How to find a distance between two parallel lines?

Suppose, one have two parallel lines given by the equations:   y=mx+b1 and y=mx+b2. Remember, if the lines are parallel, their slopes must be the same, so m is the same for two lines, hence no subscript for m. How would one approach the problem of finding the distance between those lines?   First, if one draws a picture, he or she shall immediately realize that if a point  is A chosen on one of the lines, with coordinates (x1, y1), and a perpendicular line is drawn from that point to the second line, the length of the segment of this new line between two parallel lines give us the sought distance. Let us denote the point of intersection of our perpendicular line with the second line as B(x2,y2).   What do we know of point A and B?   First, since A lies on the first parallel line, its coordinates must satisfy the equation for the first line, that is,   y1=mx1+b1       (1)   Same... read more

Christmas Present!!

Hi All!   In the spirit of giving, starting on 11/29/2013,  I will be offering a few brainteasers/ trivia questions where the first 3 people to email me the correct answer will receive a free, one hour, tutoring session in any subject that I offer tutoring for (via the online platform)!  That's right free!  Get your thinking hats on everyone!   Merry Christmas!!  Andrew L. Profile  

Math Equations, Formulas and Vocabulary

Area, Volume and Circumference equations: Area of a Square A=S2 Area of a Triangle A=1/2bh Area of a Rectangle A=LW Right Triangle/Pythagorean Theorem a2+b2=c2 Area of Parallelogram A=bh Area of a Trapezoid A=1/2h(a+b) Area of a Circle A=πr2 Circumference of a Circle c=πd or c=2πr Volume of a Sphere V=4/3πr3 Surface Area of a Sphere SA=4πr2 Volume of a Cube V=s3 Volume of a Rectangular Solid V=lwh Slope of a line Equations Slope-intercept form y=mx+b m is the slope b is the y-intercept y is a y coordinate on the graph (that coincides with the line) x is an x coordinate on the graph (that coincides with the line) Horizontal line y=b Vertical line x=a Finding... read more

Maybe I'm Just No Good At Math.

I've heard this sentiment over and over--sometimes from students, and sometimes, I'll admit, in my own head. Last night, I was working on my own math homework, and there was one problem I just couldn't get my head around. I read the book, looked back at my class notes, and even sat down with a tutor for a while, and still, when I tried a new problem of the same type on my own, it just didn't work! "Maybe I'm not as good at math as I thought," I told myself. "Am I REALLY smart enough for bioengineering?" It was hard, but I told myself "YES!" And I kept working. I laid the assigned problems aside and started doing other problems of the same type from the book. I checked my work every time. Each problem took at least ten minutes to solve, and the first three were ALL wrong! I kept going. I got one right, and it made sense! I did another, and it was half right, but there was still a problem. I did another, and it was right... read more

Need a Geometry/Chemistry Tutor?

I graduated with a BS degree in Chemistry from East Carolina University, Greenville NC.  Since then, I worked in pharmaceuticals as a chemist/lab analyst for 1.5 years performing drug analyzes with High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Ultra-Violet Spectrometry, FT-NMR IR, and moisture testing.  Also I tutored General Chemistry I and II /Math(pre-algebra, algebra I & II, calculus, geometry at a community college. Also I was a General Chemistry II Lab Instructor at the college and have taken Human Gross Anatomy.  If anyone of you need help with Anatomy, let me know!  I am a more a visual learner and use concept mapping frequently. I thoroughly enjoy helping students achieve their learning and for them to be able to reach their potential.  I look forward in working with you. XX

Teaching Angles - Use Your Arms

Most recently, I was working with a student on the angles in a triangle.  We started with a circle to show the angles all the way around, their sizes, and how they compare to each other.  Then, I set my arms hand to elbow in an L shape.  We worked on showing the sizes of various angles by moving my hand at 12-o'clock (90 degrees) to a position that would show the angle size when my other arm was at 9-o'clock (zero degrees).  It worked very well.

Things a good tutor should say and discuss with you:

As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to... read more

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