Finding inspiration in his Russian roots, Ari brought the Eastern European model of math enrichment to Orlando for the first time. Ari founded the Orlando Math Circle to connect with other students and explore mathematics outside of school - this soon evolved into a community-wide organization aimed at providing mathematics for all.
Ari realized that math had to be presented and explored in fun ways through peer mentoring. After studying various math circle programs in USA, he was most inspired by the Chicago Math Circles model. But wanted to incorporate the peer to peer mentoring and student teaching elements of the Orange County Math Circle. He organized high school students with different talents and interests to come together and bring math programs to underserved middle school students.
Ari wanted to create a sustainable model of a community based math circle that would engage students of diverse backgrounds and ages to work together to discover the beauty and joy of mathematics. He was looking for content that would spark interest, discussions, and foster creative problem solving. Ari brought existing math programs, like Math Kangaroo Contest, as well as new programs like Global Math Project and Expii to Orlando for the first time. These programs will provide lasting benefits to Central Florida students.
After four years, a problem solving session outside of school with friends has grown to a program with over 100 students, 40 volunteers from over 30 different schools and colleges, 3 national math competitions open to all, special events, and partnerships with leaders in math education that are helping OMC change the landscape of extracurricular mathematics in Central Florida.
Hamzah is a Senior at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida. His interest in STEM extends beyond his work with OMC and motivated him to pursue biophysics research at UCF's College of Optics and Photonics. Tantamount to his passion for science and math, however, is his passion for the humanities, as a published poet and founder of an arts-based nonprofit. Through his contributions to OMC, Hamzah aims to be an example for students who don't see the intersections of STEM and the humanities as clearly as he does.
Muhammad Khattak is a senior at Lake Highland Preparatory. Muhammad has been organizing and coordinating special events for the past four years. He was instrumental in setting up the the Trianglethon program which is one of OMC favorites. He also enjoys teaching math circle sessions because he wants to help all students learn to appreciate math and have fun with solving problems. Aside from pursuing his passion for teaching through Orlando Math circle, he is also involved in numerous other pursuits, such as Islamic Artists of Orlando and his high school speech & debate team.
Jordin is a University of Central Florida (UCF) student studying Computational Mathematics and is the secretary of the Society of Optics Students at UCF as well as the event coordinator of the Collegiate Mathematical Society at UCF. During her time in both of the organizations at UCF, she has noticed a clear absence of women in these fields. In a similar scenario, in her time as a private tutor, she has seen most K-12 girls do not have enough confidence in themselves and are not able to perform well. She wants to encourage both females and males alike that anything is possible and as soon as someone discovers the beauty of mathematics for themselves, they gain a whole new perspective of the world they live in. Through the Orlando Math Circle, she believes she will be able to encourage K-12 students to achieve their dreams and gain a new confidence in mathematics.
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Gabriela Salinas, is a sophomore studying interdisciplinary studies of biomed and physical science with a minor in health science at the University of Central Florida. She was born in Peru and came to this country when she was 8 years old. Gabriela joined the Orlando Math Circle as a volunteer in high school and has been participating for the past 4 years. As a teacher’s assistant she noticed disparities between boys and girls in her classes. As girls got closer to middle school age their class participation grew less and less. Gabriela started researching women in mathematics and found that the statistics were bleak. The numbers for minority women in mathematics and computer science were minimal.
This inspired her to organize one of the Orlando Math Circle’s present programs, Encouraging Girls in Math and Science. This initiative works to invite middle and high school girls to an area they’ve traditionally been shut out of—the math and science arena. Using art, music, and sport, Gabriela Salinas and the Orlando Math Circle have been demonstrating that math is not the boring dry subject many of us have led to believe it is.
Whether it is representing Orlando students in a workshop for a national math contest or helping little children cut out equilateral triangles for the OMC’s Trianglethon, Gabriela Salinas has learned the secret of catalyzing social change: step up and do your own bit to make a difference wherever you are. Gabby’s other interests include playing lacrosse and going to watch soccer games, cheering on for Orlando Soccer.
Mimi Sawhney, a freshman at Lake Highland Prep, has combined her passion for technology with her love of math and teaching, into her work at Orlando Math Circle. She is a valuable member of the OMC volunteer team who works on OMC's social media and other marketing campaigns and other projects as needed. She is also in the process of training herself to become a volunteer tutor to hold weekend math sessions with Middle And Elementary school children. As the only female student from her school actively participating in OMC, she hopes to influence others to join and be part of a dynamic group that is spreading the joy of Math in Central Florida.
Mimi also likes to paint, and is a member of the Lake Highland Lincoln Douglas Debate Team.