"When you tell people that you work in a math museum, they imagine that you write equations on the board all day long," says Dan Wang '18. "But it isn’t like that at all."
Wang is one of a select group of high school students who intern for the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City (MoMath). He spends every Sunday at MoMath, accompanying visitors as they make their way through more than 30 interactive exhibits. While guests ride square-wheeled tricycles, paint with light or spin to make vertical cords form shapes around them, Wang is on hand to explain the mathematical principles at work, the how and why of the exhibits. "Whether it is the properties of a geometric shape or an algebraic equation," he says, "I help the visitors discover what each exhibit demonstrates or reveals."
A junior now, Wang has been an intern with MoMath since the beginning of his sophomore year. As a freshman, he studied Honors Algebra II with Upper School math teacher Greg Washburn, who noted not simply Wang’s aptitude, but his level of maturity and commitment. "Dan was always the last student to hand in a test because he reviewed his work multiple times," Washburn says. "I encouraged Dan and all of my advisees to pursue meaningful commitments outside of school, and Dan really took that advice to heart." For Wang, an ideal opportunity presented itself that spring when Math Department Chair Ed Brown told him about the MoMath internship program.
Wang spent the summer of his freshman year applying to the program. "It was a lengthy process," he says, "with two rounds of interviews." After being accepted, Wang went into the city once a week to receive training and then begin his internship. He hopes to continue his work with MoMath and is interested in serving as a counselor this summer for the museum’s summer camp. Brown, who also recommended Wang for the summer program, offers "I taught Dan in Honors Pre-calculus when he was a sophomore. Every day I saw his curiosity, talent and love for math."
When asked which math course he enjoyed the most, Wang said, "It is always the one I am working on now. This year it is AB Calculus; next year it will be BC. Math has a lot to offer, and the further you go, the more you can see all the things you can do with math. As you continue to learn, everything becomes more and more interesting and you see more clearly how everything fits together."
At Gill, Wang is a member of the Math League, a reading buddy and a varsity basketball player. Last year, he teamed up with Nina Bhatia '17 to create a Middle School tutoring club. The two are available on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to offer free tutoring and homework help to Middle School students. "It doesn’t always have to be math," says Wang smiling. "I just enjoy giving back and teaching."
Museum photos provided by MoMath