MathTreks is a startup transforming how students apply their mathematical knowledge and skills to solve meaningful problems.

MathTreks announced in June the launch of its new online tutoring service to expand the curiosity, capabilities, and confidence of today and tomorrow’s problem-solvers. MathTreks’ certified math teachers facilitate thirty-minute problem - solving sessions that are designed around one complex applied math problem that is chosen for its personal appeal to the student. MathTreks offers sessions for individual students, teenagers and their grandparents, and small groups - giving students a convenient way to transfer their mathematical understanding to topics of personal interest. 

With MathTreks, middle and high school students can solve sophisticated math problems that are aligned with their mathematical needs and individual interests. Students are immersed in their problems’ rich contexts through video and engage in a four-part process: understand the problem, develop and execute a plan, and reflect. In each thirty-minute session, an experienced math teacher engages students through well-timed questions and suggestions to propel students’ thinking further with immediate feedback. Teachers support students’ self-reflection through post-session qualitative, evidence-based feedback. The online format - in a secure, virtual classroom, supports convenient scheduling for individual, grandchild - grandparent, and small-group sessions. 

In focusing on the complex problem - solving, MathTreks expands and improves the type of support students can receive for learning math outside of school. MathTreks gives students a way to concretely answer the question ‘When am I going to use this math?’ by solving a problem that addresses a topic that the students identify as meaningful. 

“MathTreks gives families a way to address two crucial areas of learning math that are common challenges: motivation and complex problem - solving. By leveraging the strengths of human connection and technology, MathTreks nurtures students’ intrinsic motivation and mathematical ability to undertake big challenges,” said Andrea Touhey, MathTreks’ founder. 

There has long existed a sizable difference between the actual and the desired math performance of middle and high school students in Minnesota. While consistently outperforming the country on the National Assessment of Education Progress, Minnesota 8th grade math students have fallen far short of reaching the level of ‘advanced’ achievement for the past twenty years. 

“Students are often good at answering the first layer of a problem in the United States. But as soon as students have to go deeper and answer the more complex part of a problem, they have difficulties," says Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at OECD. Early research suggests COVID-19 has likely exacerbated the difference between students’ actual and desired performance, with researchers predicting increased learning loss from school closures this spring.  

“MathTreks offers a unique opportunity for students to complement their formal math coursework at a specific point in their learning cycle. Unlike common tutoring approaches that are designed around homework help or test prep, MathTreks is focused only on complex problem-solving. In striving to supercharge students’ learning with well-timed, rich learning experiences, MathTreks endeavors to motivate students to undertake more ambitious challenges in their formal academic coursework and beyond. Ultimately, MathTreks’ goal is to be a pivotal agent in developing curious, capable, and confident mathematicians,” said Touhey.

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