Students who are mathletes and science superstars are the beneficiaries when STEM education is encouraged by the White House. Last week, students gathered at the White house to to discuss math in education and discss a new film about Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity.
Emory University Math professor Ken Ono explained that people with brilliant math minds like Ramanujan always need support to cultivate interest. Ramanujan had no formal training. Ono founded the Spirit of Ramanujan initiative, which identifies extraordinary young minds who do not come from traditional math backgrounds.
One of those students is Kendall Clark, a Baltimore tenth grader. Her teacher had noticed her talent and encouraged her to apply.
“It was an amazing application. The maturity with which she wrote her essay meant I had to follow up,” Ono said. “She’s proving theorems on her own. Imagining theorems. And that’s just so unusual that we had to give her a prize.”
Clark will research applied mathematics at the university level. She says she sees math everywhere, thinking about the rate a pen loses ink when she writes, or the volume of a room.
“(Math) just broadens your perspective. It allows you to look at your surroundings in a different way,” she said. “And I feel like being good at math is an accomplishment and people like to place those who are good at mathematics on a high pedestal, and I want it to be known that just anyone can do it.”