Coaching Actuaries



Calculus Wave Club Q&A

August 9 2019 • Dave Kester

This fall, I’m starting a new organization for math-lovers that I’m calling the Calculus Wave Club. Click here to apply.

What is the Calculus Wave Club?

A club of math enthusiasts who want to learn and share interesting math ideas, with an emphasis on calculus.

Why Calculus?

Most students study calculus, but few get to enjoy it and see its ideas come alive. Calculus is everywhere and has a rich story of past and present that impacts how we view the world and deal with change. It’s also an essential topic to understand for the actuarial exams.

Why have a club?

The stories we all have about how calculus has come alive for each of us are worth sharing with our peers. Calculus goes from being a subject you study in class to an experience that changes your perspective on life. I find that I benefit from documenting what I learn in a format that others can read. Also, I benefit from being around other people who also want to learn more interesting math.

Why name it “Calculus Wave Club”?

We all benefit when we can catch a wave. Calculus has an amazing history. Here is an opportunity to learn what others before us have done and benefit from their work. Our celebration of their ideas form the first ripple that has the potential to turn into a wave of inspiration for others to see what we see in calculus and catch the wave for themselves. So, there is an opportunity to “give back.”

What is the “Give Back” opportunity for Calculus Wave?

Coaching Actuaries is creating an online course that provides a fresh perspective on calculus. This is a free course to help others enjoy and understand calculus. Calculus Club Wave members will have an opportunity to create content for this course. The content primarily would involve writing practice problems, reviewing other members’ problems, or drafting solutions. It’s an opportunity for us to give back to the math community, as well as an opportunity for members and I to work together. Also, members may learn more about e-learning from a math education perspective. 

What special roles are needed for the club?

I see 3 roles to begin with:

  • President: Sets the vision for the club, including deciding on what will be the next topic to be discussed. I see myself fulfilling this role for the first 12 months.
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Secretary responsibilities include meeting logistics, general communication, and taking official minutes at the meetings. Part of the “output” of each meeting will be a written communication that is made public on the club’s website. There are no dues needed (initially) so immediate treasurer responsibilities would be minimal. Coordinate food or drinks at a meeting if needed.
  • Technology Coordinator: Get the initial website created (using WordPress). Make sure the technology works for each meeting (Zoom). Post the information from the Secretary from each meeting to the club’s website.

How often does the club meet?

We’ll meet once a month on the first Tuesday of the month. Our first meeting will be held Oct 2, 2019. We would commit to meet for one year and then evaluate whether it is worth pursuing further. The goal is for the club to continue and for us to then identify potential new leadership positions.

What happens at a meeting?

I envision a typical meeting including the following activities:

  1. Introduction of new members.
  2. Everyone provides a brief summary of what they’ve learned that month. 
  3. Group discussion on a given calculus topic. 
  4. Discuss progress on the Calculus Give Back program

How large can the club be?

If the membership size increases beyond about 25, then changes would need to be considered.

Who should apply for membership?

Our first round of membership applications is open for any Coaching Actuaries student with a passion for calculus and is interested in learning more and working with me to help others discover the beauty of calculus.

What is the format for each meeting?

Each meeting will be held online via Zoom. Members can join via Zoom or meet in person in CA’s home office in Des Moines, IA.

What are the long term goals for the club?

Some of that will evolve based on the club membership goals. Personally, I hope that it grows in quality (people learning and sharing more interesting math) and quantity (more members). If there is numerical growth beyond 25 or so members, then that would be managed by the club.

What are the tasks club members can do?

  • At a minimum, attend the meetings and growing in their understanding and appreciation of calculus.
  • I would also ask that within the first 6 months, they would create their own problem, solve it, and then present it to the group. This is a one-time event.
  • There are plenty of optional opportunities. Either write the first draft or peer review different content. Content includes: Adapt practice problems and solutions, blog on specific things you are learning. This can be specific problems, topics, or even the history of calculus.

We shouldn’t view math just as numbers, formulas, and problems. Math is much more.

If you’re a college student pursuing actuarial science, you probably have two key goals: exams, and internships. Both are essential ways you can distinguish yourself from others when you’re pursuing your first job as an actuary.

About the Author

I’ve been helping aspiring actuaries for more than 20 years. When I’m not teaching, I like to read, run, and listen to good math stories. When I was preparing for the actuarial exams, there was nothing like Coaching Actuaries. Now, we combine teaching and technology to guide the next generation of actuarial students.

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