By Charlotte Brookins
In the fall of 2020, Department of Mathematics associate professor Mohammad Farajzadeh Tehrani created the Iowa City Math Club, a regularly meeting organization with the goal of helping Iowa City-area middle and high school students improve their math skills and take a greater part in their community.
Three years later, Tehrani was nominated the 2023 CLAS Outreach and Engagement Award for his work on the project.
“We intended to start the club in the Iowa City Public Library, where students could learn some math, talk to each other, and even eventually participate in math competitions,” says Tehrani. “But then COVID disrupted everything, and I decided to start it over Zoom instead.”
During the height of the pandemic, the club held 90-minute online meetings every Sunday. However, as the community began to reopen in the fall of 2021, the Iowa City Math Club returned in-person and masked to the library, where students from as far away as Cedar Rapids met every two weeks for two hours.
In the meetings, Tehrani would instruct the sixth- through tenth-grade students on various subdivisions of mathematics, walking them through problems according to experience and skill level. Through instruction and collaboration, club members would build on subjects they were struggling with and hone the skills they already had as well as learn new material to challenge and improve their abilities.
In its three years, the Iowa City Math Club has had a major impact on students and families from all across the Iowa City area. Not only has it aided community youth in mathematical endeavors, but it also provides volunteer opportunities for older high school students and connects its members with math competitions to test their skills.
“Some students previously in the club are helping to run it now,” says Tehrani. “And one of our students recently advanced to the final stage of the International Mathematic Olympiad, which is the most prestigious math competition in the country.”
The Iowa City Math Club was funded by multiple grants awarded by the university, such as one from the National Science Foundation. As a result of this financial support, Tehrani is able to keep the Iowa City Math Club running and continue supplying Iowa City-area students with valuable learning opportunities.
Tehrani’s dedication to community service and his determination to provide a safe and inclusive learning space for students are abundantly clear in the work he puts into the Iowa City Math Club.