Part study hall, part help desk, part social event, Harvard’s Math Question Center drives home that math needn’t be all about solitary scholars racking their brains on Pythagorean theorems or geometry proofs. It can be done as a community, with the chance to make a few friends along the way.
“There’s always something very bonding about being very stressed out about an assignment and mutually helping each other,” said Iona Clark, a sophomore who was an MQC regular before joining this year as one of the center’s undergraduate staffers.
Run by the Department of Mathematics, the center, a cluster of rooms on the third floor of the Science Center, is open to all students taking entry-level calculus and linear algebra courses. It’s intended to assist with concepts covered in class and general questions. Mainly though, students visit the center for help with homework — namely, packets of questions called problem sets, or Psets. The assignments are time-consuming and usually grueling, with the easier ones taking a little less than an hour (this is rare) and others demanding sustained attention for three times that or more.
So why suffer alone?
“The MQC is really a community where students can come together, find each other, and give each other help,” said Hakim Walker, a preceptor in math who oversees the center. “That’s when the MQC works best … if they can help each other, share ideas, share resources, and come to their own understanding.”