We are all born mathematicians wired for testing conjectures and discovering patterns. When we solve a puzzle we experience just as much joy as when we dance, make art or listen to stories.
Our aim is to create opportunities for children to practice their innate mathematical thinking skills while delighting in playful problem-solving for fun.
This whole project is a labor of love sitting at the intersection of three of our favorite things to do:
Problem-solving for fun,
Designing learning experiences for children,
and Watching them learn.
In particular we love to create stress-free spaces where children can play with mathematical ideas through games and puzzles. It is definitely one of our favorite ways to connect with young minds around the world, and it helps them connect to each other across borders through a shared joy of solving problems just for the fun of it.
Cindy was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where she graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela as a Cell Biologist. She then moved to California to further her scientific career pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California Los Angeles and subsequently working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco. Being an educator at heart, Cindy found her way into classrooms by designing and implementing science and math enrichment classes at her sons' schools. She has continued to design such programs for a number of San Francisco Bay Area schools and after-school programs, as well as globally in Ghana, Senegal, Bahamas, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and India.
Valeria was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and immigrated to California to attend art school at the California College of the Arts. She is a working visual artist out of her studio in Oakland, California. She also loves to volunteer her time at local schools and has extensive experience designing art activities for children in lower and middle grades. Valeria and Cindy love to team-up to create hands-on experiences for children that draw from art and mathematics. They lead an Art and Math week-long Puzzling Festival in Ghana and are busy planning their next Festival in Colombia where they'll be working with Venezuelan refugees.
Fiona was born in Caracas, Venezuela and later immigrated with her family to California. She is a senior at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles and loves math, science and children. Fiona volunteers as a "Puzzle Presenter" and leads Virtual Puzzling sessions in Spanish and English during her school breaks.
Ben was born in Dakar, Senegal and is a community leader in his village Djinack Bara on the border between Senegal and The Gambia. He holds a Masters in Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation from HETAA and has worked extensively with World Connect (New York), Pharmaciens Sans Frontières (Luxembourg) and Hydraulique Sans frontières (France). Ben is the Head of L'école Elémentaire Djinack Bara. He is passionate about child development and education and is excited to make our puzzles and activities accessible in French.
Ben Saliou Ndiaye
Yolanda was born and lives in Caracas, Venezuela, where she graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela as a Math Educator. She holds a masters in Cognitive Psychology from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (Caracas), where she specialized in didactics of problem solving. Yolanda also holds a doctorate in Math Education from the Politécnico Nacional de México, where she focused on professional development of math teachers. She is a member of the Venezuelan Association for Mathematical Education (ASoVEMat), sharing with Latin American colleagues how to improve math education for children and adolescents. For 28 years Yolanda worked in the pre-university course of the Faculty of Engineering at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Yolanda has the conviction that "everyone can do mathematics, at any age, if they are exposed to it in a pleasant way and in a friendly environment".
Yolanda Serres Voisin
Saloni Kartikey Gupta is a Germany-Trained Electronics Engineer and has spent 5 years working with Vatsalya (www.vatsalya.org) and Anoothi (www.anoothiindia.com), working with numerous artisans, volunteers, students and people from marginalized communities and underprivileged circumstances. With her near perfect organizational and analytical skills, Saloni shares a passion for mathematics and also has her own youtube channel called "Sailing Through Maths", supporting a wide number of children and students get over their fear of mathematics. At present she is an educator at Vatsalya Shiksha Niketan and is Co Founder of Equanimity Engineering solutions (www.energify.in) which works in field of solar training and clean energy. Saloni works on the translation of WPT puzzles to Hindi, in partnership with Rohit.
Saloni Kartikey Gupta
Rohit Sharma came to Vatsalya Shiksha Niketan as a child of seven in 2006. He is a proud almost alumnus pursuing his final year. Rohit has excelled not only in his studies but also, in the last three years as a teacher and a leader in the Vatsalaya community. He is very excited to be contributing to the translation of WPT puzzles to Hindi, in partnership with Saloni, making the material accessible to so many children in India.
Stephen Holzer was born in New York and received his MSE from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, which shaped his beliefs as a progressive educator and sparked his passion for the teaching and learning of mathematics. He has been consulting as a K-6 math coach with Metamorphosis TLC at different public schools across New York City. Before that, he worked as an instructional coach, grade lead, and math coach in the Bronx after experiences as a classroom teacher at various charter and independent schools in New York and Connecticut; he also lived in Ecuador for two years teaching at Colegio Menor de la San Francisco de Quito. He has recently begun working with the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival as a way to expand the reach of high-quality mathematics instruction via digital platforms. Stephen is super excited to lead our Virtual Puzzling sessions in English on Fridays!