Erin has started doing "bedtime math" with Owen, in addition to the normal bedtime stories. We also solve math puzzles (word problems) the car from time to time. I've been noticing that Owen has the ability to work out some pretty complicated problems in his head. The other day in the car I asked him "If we can travel 60 miles in one hour, how many minutes does it take us to go 90 miles?" He thought for about 15 seconds and then surprised me by saying "90 minutes."

It occurred to me that he had in place the basic tools for algebra. Since I'm also working on helping him deal with challenges, the other night I decided to give him some algebra problems. I told him I'd give him 10 points for each problem he solved, expecting him to get something like 30 points, tops. I'd then use that as inspiration for learning how to do the other problems. To my surprise, he got 9 out of 9 for 90 points:

He's only 6.8 years old. What have I created?!

While this is nice and all, it dawned on me that Owen will likely pass me up in math ability well before he reaches college. I better start practicing my multidimensional calculus now...

Megan said…
I know what you mean! Katie just participated in first grade math bowl, competing against other area schools. I was surprised at the ones they got right, and how quickly! We are definitely going to have to brush up on our own skills as she gets older.

Way to go, Owen! Those are some complex problems to solve!!!
mama mia said…
Wow! He has some innate ability, PLUS, someone who values math and talks about it regularly...remember how early he played with that sesame street phone and recognized numbers? I had to think hard about some of those problems myself...glad I just teach kindergarten, but guess I better step up the word problem and problem solving questions! Surprised he already knows to multiply or divide in your equations!

### An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…