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About Us

Bikoy likes to write math equations

Amyel likes to draw and build things.

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Iliana likes to sing and dance

Misha likes to ask "What if?"

Our Raisons d' Etre for Math Stories

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Math has historically been the toughest gateway to STEM careers and to social mobilization. It should not be the case. We learn from neuroscience and mathematics education research that humans are hardwired with math skills. This means babies are born with natural abilities for mathematical thinking.

 

Even during the prehistoric era, math skills were necessary for survival. Evidence of math use have been found in cave writings. People needed to know big from small, more from less, near from far, and more mathematical ideas in their daily lives. While they may not have had measuring tools or number names, they had to estimate and count to keep safe, to know if there was enough, and to account for their families. 

Math educators discovered that by the age of 2 years, children are able to recognize sets of 2 and 3, which is the math idea of subitizing, in just about the same time that they are learning to count. At an earlier age, they can differentiate concepts like big and small, near and far-- proof of hardwiring. Babies feel bad when you "take away" from them. All of these are fundamental math ideas already present prior to their first day of learning math in school. So why is math difficult to learn for many?

Studies of math learning have led us to conclude that it is the way that we are taught or the pedagogy used and the defined purpose for learning, that makes math difficult and not interesting. Learning experiences that focus on speed, testing, rote, and memorization of disconnected math ideas make math a set of static and lifeless facts that have no meaning and connection to a child's everyday concerns and interests.

Math is most effectively learned  through mathematizing. This is a concept introduced by renowned Dutch Math educator, Hans Freudenthal. He explains that it is important for children to engage in personalized construction of mathematical concepts and apply math ideas in context, to their life experiences and real-world problems. This means, being able to learn and understand mathematical ideas, their relationships, and how these ideas interact and affect one and the other. This is what it means to make sense and reason mathematically. 

Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist explains that math is not learned in a vacuum. Every child's mind is organized with a set of prior knowledge, culture, experiences, and understanding of the world, which influences their learning. These factors have to be taken into consideration in math learning. Likewise, when math textbooks are written, the authors' math ideas are expressed with their own cultural symbolisms and perspectives. In a nation of a growing multicultural population of children, math learning becomes an intercultural experience.  The intersection of multiple cultures is a rich international wellspring of perspectives and insights weaving colorful fabrics of mathematical ideas applied in the context of stories and problem-solving simulating real-world contexts and challenges.

Our stories are inspired by the questions, thinking, illustrations, constructions, conjectures, algorithms, perspectives, conversations, computations, experimentations, discoveries, and mostly hard work of mathematicians, math educators, and creative writers.

The greatest inspiration and raison d' etre of why we do what we do, are the children and the math storytellers that we observe and work with whose math ideas, questions, connections, and intercultural perspectives, have opened our eyes, warmed our hearts, and provided us with many wonderful insights about why math is most interesting and empowering when taught through stories.

Meet The Team

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Gigi Carunungan, Ed.D.

Cofounder, Executive Director

has over 30 years of experience as educational leader and is driven by her passion for reinventing education. She creates learning environments that nurture students' abilities to achieve their true potential. Gigi designs integrated, thematic, hands-on, and future-driven K-12 curricula, summer camps, and in-class and online courses and enrichment programs.

As an academic leader and innovator, Gigi co-founded and led the learning design of two Silicon Valley schools: Synapse School and Imagination School. She invented the Helical Model, a constructivist learning model inspired by neuroscience and learning. She wrote and published "digital Media in the Classroom," and "Documentary Making for Social Studies." She co-founded and was Chief Learning Architect of Young Outliers and Playnovate, an online STEAM Lab for children. Gigi teaches Math Methods for PreService Teachers.

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Angela Mascarenas, Ph.D.

Community Builder

is a longtime community organizer, educator, and researcher. She is a Co-Founder of the 31-year-old Chicago-based organization, Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts (dba CIRCA-Pintig), whose mission is to promote community engagement and popular education through the arts. Angela led the development and launch of CIRCA-Pintig’s STEAM-LEAF (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math–Learning Enrichment Across Families) youth outreach program that uses an integrated-arts approach to enriching STEM learning among immigrant and marginalized youths. Angela currently serves as CIRCA-Pintig’s Community Engagement Director and STEAM-LEAF’s International Program Director.

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Jessica Liou

Cofounder, Product Design Lead

was a volunteer teacher for two years at the Safe Passage School in Guatemala. She facilitated access for students of low-income families to high-level STEAM lessons.

MathXplorers is Jessica's debut as an illustrator and book designer. She is a firm believer in taking the non-traditional path and encourages young students to explore topics that interest them both in and out of the classroom. She is passionate about bringing affordable, effective, and engaging education to children around the world.

Jessica is pursuing a bachelor's degree in liberal arts with a focus on the social sciences. Out side of her studies and illustration work, Jessica enjoys cooking and playing with her four adorable dogs at her home in Northern California.

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Ginger Leopoldo

Master Storyteller

is CIRCA-Pintig’s current Executive Director and lead-trainor of its STEAM-LEAF program. She is an educator, actor, director, and community organizer. Her work includes performing, directing, producing, and facilitating theatre productions and workshops for all ages.
 

Ginger has helped to create a youth heritage curriculum with techniques that utilize a basic integrated theatre arts workshop methodology as well as a facilitator of Activism & Art workshops for college students. She has over 20 years of teaching using integrated arts-based methods with children and adults.

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