Falcon Focus: sophomore shares his love for math

December 6, 2012 — by Brandon Judoprasetijo and Michelle Leung

Sophomore Kevin Chiang likes AP Calculus BC because of the subject’s variety and its emphasis on understanding.

Sophomore Kevin Chiang likes AP Calculus BC because of the subject’s variety and its emphasis on understanding.

“I like math because there are a bunch of interesting topics that you can explore,” Chiang said, “and also it's one of a few subjects where there's not much emphasis on getting the right answer, but rather getting the concept of the problem.”
Most students would agree that AP Calculus BC is one of the most difficult courses the school offers. However, Chiang not only takes this challenging math class, but also participates in other math programs, such as mentoring younger students, a reflection of his passion stemming from childhood.

“I was first interested in math in fourth or fifth grade,” Chiang said. “The elementary school’s Math Olympiad material was interesting.”

According to Chiang, the variety and quantity of math topics kept him involved throughout Redwood Middle School. After he joined the math club in seventh grade, Chiang pursued math as more than just a casual interest.

“I just thought it was a good way to increase my math abilities,” Chiang said, “and join math competitions and hang out with people who share the same interests.”

Chiang is the public relations officer in math club and works mostly with the Internet, sending emails and creating forms.

Other math club officers said that Chiang plays a significant role in the club.

“Kevin is a very talented member of math club who we are very lucky to have,” math club officer junior Priyanka Krishnamurthi said. “He is really fun to be around and brings a lot of energy to the club.”

Chiang’s most memorable experience in math was his first success at a math competition.

“My favorite memory was in seventh grade when I made it into the AMC [American Math Competition] 10 for the first time,” Chiang said. “I got into a higher math class because I had passed the AMC 10 in 7th and 8th grade, so my counselor deemed it appropriate for me to take Trig/Pre-Calc freshman year.”

Since his initial success in that AMC competition, Chiang has continued to score among the best in the country on competitions such as the California Math League and Mandelbrot. He has even qualified for the higher level test after the AMC, the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), in seventh grade.

Chiang attributes his success in mathematics to perseverance.

“I think it's just the idea that you just have to work hard and practice, and that will eventually pay off,” Chiang said.

Chiang takes more pride in the process of learning than in test scores.

“I’m most proud of being able to improve in things I do, even if it’s just a little bit,” Chiang said.

Although keeping pace with the quick pace of the class is challenging, Chiang said that the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

“I think being in a class with older students is really helpful because they tell me a lot about how to prep for junior and senior year, classes that I should consider and workload among other things,” Chiang said.

Chiang said that his biggest inspiration is his 21-year-old sister Angela Chiang, a graduate of Stanford University.

“My sister has encouraged me to just continue doing the things I enjoy regardless of what other people say,” Chiang said.  “She's also guided me through high school so far by giving me a few tips about time management, studying and other things.”

Chiang has been a member of math club since he joined in seventh grade.

“My favorite part of being in math club is hanging out with friends, helping others with math and getting them to see how fun math is,” Chiang said.

Chiang also helps teach at Redwood Math Club, a middle school math program that collaborates with the school’s math club; he is head coach of one team of students.

Aside from math as a favorite academic pastime, Chiang also enjoys video games, running, football, badminton, piano and computer science. He hopes to be able to spread his love of math to others through math club as well.

“[I hope] everyone who joins gets enjoyment out of it and sees it as something fun, not just a boring class,” Chiang said.

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