I graduated in 1988 with a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the Polytechnic Institute in Bucharest, Romania. I had the good fortune of having as my math teacher a very good mathematician, professor Constantin Ottescu, author of many textbooks and problem solving books. He showed us what joy math can bring and soon everybody in my class loved math. I remember we "published" a geometry book with all the problems we have solved and all of us contributed our own problems. He taught us that with math you can do research and all you need in your lab is pencil, paper and sometimes a compass. Later, I started coaching children for the challenging College Entrance Exam and High School Entrance Exam in Romania. It brought me great joy when children started loving math and part of their success became my success.

I came in the US in 1991. I have 3 children and soon I discovered that math is taught in a different way at the elementary and middle school level. It is more exercise-based and less problem oriented. It is harder for a very young child to get hooked early when he doesn't see nice problems. I also noticed that Geometry is not taught anymore at elementary level. Some children are attracted to math in the beginning because of geometry. I know because I was one of them.

I feel lucky that I found this enrichment program here in Stony Brook. It is exactly what was missing. Young kids learn best when they are with their peers and solve problems. Just as young athletes need to train and have meets, young mathematicians need to train by researching interesting problems and participate in math competitions.

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