Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Week's Online Find: MathNerds

Remember when nerds were the super-smart, socially awkward kids no one else wanted to hang out with? Times sure have changed! Today’s nerds are the super-smart, socially-sought-after kids who understand things that everyone else wants to know. And -- who’da thunk it? -- many of those nerds are more than willing to share their smarts with the world.

Case in point -- MathNerds.com. This web site is a free service that provides students in kindergarten through college with help solving math problems. And the key word here is help. The math nerds at MathNerds don’t provide answers to questions or solutions to problems; they offer guidance and references that allow students (and teachers : ) to understand -- and solve -- problems themselves.

In fact, MathNerds – a volunteer network of mathematicians – won’t even help those who won’t help themselves. Although MathNerds will provide a basic hint to those who don’t even know where to start solving a problem, to receive significant help, users must have made a serious effort to solve the problem themselves and be able to show the work – right or wrong -- they’ve already done. According to the site, “the MathNerds equation is ‘no work shown from you = no help shown from us’."

MathNerds claims it isn’t a replacement for a classroom math teacher, but with prominent mathematicians standing by to help solve even the trickiest math problems within 16-24 hours, it seems like a pretty good substitute to me!

Only registered users can ask questions at MathNerds, but registration is free and easy and mostly intended to weed out spammers. And even casual visitors can view The Best of MathNerds to get a feel for the service.

Check it out!

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