The math behind the election, plus how to convince your friends to do anything

If it’s two things that people groan about the most, it’s politics and math homework.

In fact, the two types of professionals we frequently groan about are math tutors and politicians. It’s easy to complain that politicians are too distanced from reality, and that we’ll never use high school calculus in real life.

But when the two worlds collide, they can explain one another in a way that makes us understand how humans interact in different social groups: how we choose a restaurant, whether to recycle our to-go boxes, and even how we vote.

Recently, an international group of researchers put their heads together to create a mathematical model that that they hope will help explain the relationship between social influences, environmental factors, and opinions. The complex algebra attempts to gauge to what extent somebody is absolutely certain of a belief.

Essentially, if people paid more attention to the structural features of small-group interpersonal influence systems, then they could more succinctly convince them why a policy is necessary.

So basically the study tells us that if we understand the complex dynamic of a group of people, we can say one thing that convinces them of completely unrelated things.

For example: Convince people that government is bad, and they will think the president’s policies on anything are, well, attacking their way of life.

Example 2: Say you love McDonald’s (those hot french fries though!). Your group of four friends want to go to Burger King, which is the equivalent of eating garbage to you. Clearly you are outnumbered in this decision, but then you realize that the friend who’s driving happens to be the only one with access to a car. As such, everyone in the group values the driver’s opinion the most since everyone just wants greasy fast food.

If you can persuade the driver why Mickey D’s is superior (less driving time, you’ll buy their meal) then you have convinced the group by default.

Example 3: Your friends sometimes forget to add you to the group text and you get left out of fun weekend activities. But when there’s a homework assignment due, suddenly you get all the texts.

THEN you get the Yup app, and have a mobile math tutor whenever you need it. You start blowing through the math homework much faster than everyone else. Suddenly people realize that they should include you in every single plan because you are a living, walking mathematics textbook.

With persuasion comes power, friends. It’s all in the math.

 

New York high schooler uses tutoring app to crush exams

School can be daunting: juggling extracurricular activities, exams, strategizing the perfect time to text your crush… it’s amazing sleep gets factored in at all. We want to tell your stories. We occasionally feature students who have run into academic roadblocks and used the Yup app to connect with a tutor for math, chemistry and/or physics.

This week, we interviewed a high school student who connected with one of our mobile tutors to prepare for New York’s especially rigorous testing system.

Meet:

img_1973Gianna, 10th grade, New York

Favorite subject: Chemistry or English

Least favorite: Geometry

Extracurriculars: Soccer, acting, softball and/or baseball, and dancing.

Favorite app: Yup of course!

What kind of student would you describe yourself as?

I’m the type of student to try to do my work fast but also correct. Hoping to have a 95 average I try to study hard for quizzes and tests.

What’s the hardest part about high school?

The honors classes I’m in, and regents.

[Note: In New York State, Regents Examinations are statewide standardized examinations in core high school subjects required for a Regents Diploma to graduate. Most students, with some limited exceptions, are required to take the Regents Examinations. To graduate, students are required to have earned appropriate credits in a number of specific subjects by passing year-long or half-year courses, after which they must pass Regents examinations in some of the subject areas.]

What do you wish you’d have known freshman year?

I really should have known not to slack off.

What excites you about going to college?

College would be a life turning experience and make my dreams come true! I’m pursuing a career an acting, media and/or the film industry.

Any study tips? Life tips?

I really suggest using flashcards and asking your friends or family to help study! And don’t be afraid to make new friends in high school!

How’d you find Yup?

I found out about Yup on an ad and I was interested in getting better grades in a fun way!

Describe your experience with our tutoring. What was your previous tutoring experiences if any? Was the app easy to use? What was your tutor like? How did you work through the problem? How long did the whole thing take? Care to share an image of the problem(s) you worked on?

Previous tutoring experiences weren’t that easy. They didn’t make that much sense but since I used the app it was easy… the tutors were very nice and made the problems very easy. It depends on how long and difficult a problem is for them to work through it.

Usually it takes them 6-10 minutes depending on also the subject. In general Yup is a great app for new incoming freshman to get new subjects since middle to high school is a new jump. But I feel like it’s useful for any other grade!

What can Yup do better?

Yup is already a perfect app for my math needs, but I would love to see the tutors cover more subjects!

What is the future of education/technology?

The future of education and technology is gonna be enormous compared to what we have today! I’m excited to see what other ways we’ll find out innovative and fun ways to learn.

If your math test was NFL Game Day, which quarterback would you be?

Football is finally here, which means hours of watching the television when you could (and probably should) be studying for the week ahead. As you enter weeks one and two of the school year, your productivity in the classroom directly correlates to the quality of preparation you put in. The same goes for the pro athletes who play on Sunday.

The same pro athletes went to high school and college, too. We’ve analyzed the personality/performance traits of the top QB’s in the league and matched them with the most common types of students that emerge on the dreaded Exam Day.

Why? Because this is America, where the line between sports, pop culture and real life becomes more blurred with every viral end zone dance.

Are you a Fitzpatrick or a Kaepernick? Find out below.

downloadRyan Fitzpatrick

This is routine. You read the lesson once last week and once again while walking to class this morning… but you’ve understood the material since last year. Performing well on the test isn’t on your mind as much as scoring perfect on your next try at the SAT.

Unlike our friend Cam Newton, you’re not much for showboating your scores. You keep your smarts under the radar and hope nobody  This doesn’t mean your classmates like you very much, though.

200w.gifCam Newton

You were born for test day. You walk in with a fresh pair of Nikes just because it’s test day, sitting at the front of the classroom because you’re going to be first to finish anyway.

You make a spectacle of an entrance because that’s what winners do. Let your classmates groan at your enthusiasm. They’ll groan even louder when you mess up the grading curve and hit a celebration dance.

leepre8Jimmy Garoppolo

Everybody knows your big brother Tom, who graduated a long time ago and was notorious for getting caught cheating on a number of tests. Tom was a legendary math-lete. He wasn’t the quickest, but he could graph out parabolas with pinpoint accuracy – no TI-89 needed. He would even stay after school to tutor kids on homework, just because he was an old veteran.

… and you’re just Jimmy. All the teachers and kids in the hallway want to know: what are you made of?

Jameis Winston

You made a big name for yourself in early geometry – in fact, you knew angles and shapes like the back of your hand.

But that was last year. You’Jameis-Winston-Squint.jpg
re in the big leagues now – Calculus is known to swallow up rookies if they don’t study their playbooks. True, you came in hot d
uring week one and blew the first exam out of the water. But it’s week two and you forgot that tests are cumulative now.

Colin Kaepernick

You’ll ScreenShot2013-12-09at9.14.06AM_crop_exact.pngtake the test, all right – but not until the teacher answers some deep, existential questions first.

Why is testing in your school district so frequent? Why do we say the Pledge of Allegiance? Suddenly the entire classroom is up in arms. Desks start flying. Oh well. You finish the test, put your Beats headphones on and walk out in silence.

Also, you scored higher than Cam Newton on last year’s final exam, and he is PISSED.

The NFL lineman who cracks helmets and math problems

Ever come home from an exhausting day of classes and extracurricular activities and practices and wonder how in the world you’re going to finish homework without passing out on your textbook?

Baltimore Ravens’ John Urschel was the guy who asked for more math and more football practice.

Let’s rewind: before he entered the league as a 2014 fifth-round draft pick, and even before he became captain of the Penn State Nittany Lions squad… Urschel was just a high school student-athlete shopping around for prospective colleges.

Stanford? Maybe. Princeton? Possibly.

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His size, skills and strong math chops got him recruited to both these fine institutions, where he could have played football competitively while earning an elite education. When he chose to attend Penn State, people thought he was crazy. He told Wall Street Journal:

“… my principal told me I was a fool for picking Penn State…because he said I’m never going to play pro football, but I ended up getting the best of both worlds.”

Though he occasionally dabbled in statistics talk via online articles, he mainly focused on protecting Ryan Mallett and Matt Schaub in the pocket. This year, he dipped back into the math world, enrolling in a math program at MIT.  He is currently the only NFL player who is also enrolled in a Ph.D. program.

(Note: none of the online tutors at Yup have ever been, nor probably ever will be, professional football players.)

Athletics and math-letics isn’t new to Urschel, however. At Penn State, he juggled a physically-demanding D-1 football regimen with an equally-demanding role as an undergraduate teacher and tutor. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for him to have a copy of the playbook or Chaos: An Introduction to Dynamical Systems in hand.  

In a time when football seems to cause more brain injuries than brain conditioning, Urschel shows that there is no single image of a math guru; we don’t have to fit into a jock/nerd stereotype to excel in either category. In fact, we want to help as many students as possible break out of the mentality that they can’t understand a subject or a problem because of they “way they are”.

“I’d like to be known as a football player by football people, a mathematician by math people,” Urschel said. “Anyone else? I want to be known for both.”

When you see Urschel playing on Sunday nights, just know that there are more calculations floating around in his head than most humans could fathom on a weekend.

Oh, the places you shouldn’t go: 5 mistakes freshmen can avoid

Welcome to the big leagues, kid. As you walk the halls of the jungle that is high school, know that nap time’s over. You’ve got calculus to master! Proms to attend! Clubs to join and sports to play. With these landmarks come moments of crippling embarrassment, eye-opening lessons, and rare but incredible victories along the way. Oh, the places you’ll go. 

Four years down the road, you’ll look back and laugh at how monumental such insignificant moments seemed. But you’re living in a present reality that includes heckling in hallways and unjamming rusty lockers. You need help. Usually, we’re just here as tutors on your smartphone app helping you through math and science problems. But for the freshmen, we have an even higher calling.

We can help you foresee and maybe even cushion the blow some of the inevitable “freshman mistakes” that have earned you the most vulnerable spot on the high school totem pole.

All those who wander are probably lost

Whether it’s figuring out the temperature on a new shower faucet or navigating the hallways, one must always have a game plan when venturing into unchartered territory. If your strategy is to simply “wing it” between classes, think again.

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If you’re late to class, you risk getting off on the wrong foot with your math teacher. Worse yet, think of the one type of student most likely to be purposefully late on the first week of school: seniors. You’re lucky if you walk by a benevolent one; but just remember that they know the ins and outs of the building, so there’s no hiding.

Everybody love everybody

Herd mentality is a grim reality of life, which becomes pretty apparent when hordes of students shuffle to class at the sound of a bell. Therefore, you will realize that cliques do exist, and that people don’t always believe in embracing differences in others.

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Don’t automatically assume that social cliques are as cliché as in the movies – if you assume that everyone fits into a category of jock, nerd, or freak, then you’re missing out on a lot of potential connections. The most interesting kids I knew in high school didn’t care about what group you were in or project some stereotype onto others.

Respect the bus hierarchy

Unless you have the luxury of riding to school with a pal or older sibling, you must endure the plight of unlicensed minors across the nation: the school bus.

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Navigating the artificially-constructed seating chart of the bus can be confusing, but in a nutshell: seniority rules, from front to back. That means sitting on top of an overheating rear engine and cramping your awkward legs over the back wheel hump underneath.

You have four whole years!

We’re not here to sugar coat anything; freshman year really can suck at times. General education courses have the tendency to cause premature gray hairs. However, you should still try to cherish the freedom of being the new guy/girl. It’s important to learn what you can, while you can – before college applications and challenging courses take over your schedule.

Not making many friends? You have plenty of time to reach out. Your crush chose another someone? Freshmen go through relationships like juniors go through college apps: lots of crying, then on to the next one. You have time, so trust the process more and your hormones less! But on the other hand…

…You only have four years…

Before you know it, you’ll walk across a stage, shake your principal’s clammy hand, and walk off into the unknown sunset with a diploma. You’ll think back on these times now and wonder what could have been.

So don’t waste time. If you’re suffering in class, get help now. Scared to talk to the cutie in calculus? You’ll be scared tomorrow too, so might as well pony up today. So often, college freshmen talk about how miserable they were in high school compared to college. If you bring some of the same open-mindedness that college kids do now, your experience will be much more enjoyable.

Good luck, class of 2020!

Managing your child’s budget: Movie theater hacks, Money-saving apps, and more

Every day across the country, a student runs out of monthly mobile data. With a part-time job and/or full-time school on the schedule, the young adult must make a crucial decision: purchase more data or be able to afford more fro-yo this weekend?

These financial decisions seem insignificant to parents (who shoulder essential family expenses). But student activity on weekends can be boiled down to just a few predictable expenses, i.e. shopping, going to the movies, driving around with friends. Yes, just driving. The rising cost of these relatively cheap pastimes make life difficult for students who aren’t able to directly outsource these costs to their parents’ credit card.

Our schools aren’t exactly making life easier, either. Data shows that in 31 states, local government spending on schools fell even after the recession ended from 2008-2014. Adjusted for inflation, students are still getting duped out of funding.

While counties divert money away from schools, families have had to scrape harder to find alternative methods of tutoring, and in some cases, having the students find jobs to make ends meet.

However, students are evolving when it comes to making money and having fun. In the age of information and technological innovation, parents are also finding new ways to save money and track their youngsters’ spending habits. We might be a bunch of online math tutors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show you a few more budget hacks we’ve picked up as poor millennials:

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Olympic Student-Athletes: Life After Rio

In regards to all olympic sports, we can take a guess on the average athlete’s preparation regimen: thousands of hours of practice, laser-like focus on diet, lighting glass cups on fire and suctioning your shoulder (OK, maybe that’s just Michael Phelps). Don’t forget missing out on social life and carrying the pressure of representing your country.

Imagine shouldering that kind of responsibility, plus making a 9 AM lecture.

This year, the NCAA sent 168 student-athletes to Rio to compete in 15 sports and represent various countries. We’re featuring student-olympians in pursuit of STEM degrees to show how they manage their busy lifestyles with mathematical precision. Much like their coursework, their productivity is down to a science.

After reading the amazing stories below, we hope you feel encouraged to add more efficiency to your studying habits this semester. Try a mobile tutoring app like Yup, so you can understand your math/physics/chemistry homework and free up time to get active like an olympian.

Sovijja Pou, Brown University

Sport: Swimming

Major: Biology/applied math concentration, liberal medical education program

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Representing Cambodia, Sovijja is dedicated to maintaining a healthy balance between school and swimming. According to his feature in the student newspaper, Sovijja still spends 20 hours a week in the pool during the academic year.

“At Brown, I’m not known as just ‘the swimmer’ or just ‘the student,’ ” Pou says. “I can have an intellectual conversation with anyone here — or I can choose not to. When I was younger, I would get wrapped up in overthinking things. When I got to Brown … the openness here made me feel a lot less stressed than I was before. This has improved my mental health, improved my grades and improved my swimming by just allowing me to let go and let things happen.”

Weinreich says that Pou’s work in the lab is defined by a quiet but confident and persistent work ethic: “He’s really unburdened by an ego. He feels there is a lot to learn and is keen to ask questions. He is prepared to work hard, and he just wants to get better.”

Pou swam the 100m freestyle to kick off the 2016 events.

Virginia Thrasher, West Virginia University

Sport: Shooting

Major: Engineering

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Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

The 19-year-old from Virginia blew the competition away at the first finals in Rio: the women’s 10-meter air rifle. Her gold medal would be the first of many for the USA. What does a teen do after out-shooting her older competitors? According to USA Today:

She’ll go back to West Virginia, where she will be a sophomore. “I get home 20 hours before the first class. So I’ll be in physics at 8:30 a.m.”

Hold on… from Brazil to West Virginia with a gold medal and you still find time to calculate the acceleration of mass? Respect, Ginny.

Simone Manuel, Stanford University

Sport: Swimming

Major: Undecided, considering communications or science, tech, and society

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 11: Simone Manuel of the United States celebrates after winning gold in the Women’s 100m Freestyle Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

The 20-year-old made history by securing a gold medal in the women’s 100-meter freestyle, becoming the first African American to win an individual swimming event in the olympics. She has shattered other records while at Stanford and is feared by her competition.

To compete at the highest level, she opted to take time off her freshman year:

“I wanted to put 100 percent of my effort into Olympic trials and not separating my, I guess, uh, … man, being out of school has, like, fried my brain,” said the 19-year-old, with a laugh. “I didn’t want to separate my priorities.”

But she still encourages her teammates who remained in class:

“I definitely don’t feel guilty,” said Manuel, with another laugh, who is in full support of her teammates at Stanford. “I’m giving them all the encouragement that they need. Asking them, ‘How are finals?’ But that was another reason why I decided to redshirt and take the last quarter off academically. It’s stressful preparing for finals and trying to swim fast at this meet and at trials and move out of your dorm.”

Manuel will return as a sophomore in Stanford this fall, with more time to devote to academics in the off-season.

How to avoid using the Internet to cheat (and still get the answer!)

Everybody knows that on a moral level, cheating isn’t looked favorably upon. If you get caught, the severity of consequences depends on the culture and level of your school.

But have students turned the other cheek due to rising stress levels?

According to a report on ethics in the American Youth, 57 percent of teenagers stated that in order to be successful, people must do whatever it takes. Even cheating. The financial pressures to get ahead (or just to graduate on time) may play a factor. It might also be more convenient than ever to use technology as a means to cheat.

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One tech gadget you need to crush homework this year (hint: it’s not a gadget)

Going back to school in 2016 means equipping yourself with the right tools. YouTubers FungBros recently dropped a video on the best back-to-school tech goodies on the market:

 

Some of these trinkets are flashy (see the HuaWei smart watch) and some are geared more towards entertainment than homework (Google Chromecast and virtual reality goggles). These gadgets are like the guac on your burrito — you never regret it but you know it’ll cost you extra.

Before you comb through your hardware options, you might want to check out the software available to the devices. What apps will you most immediately need to complete tasks, and which apps are, well, guac?

Earlier we reviewed the best apps for helping you optimize your sleeping patterns so you can stay awake in class. For note-taking (but also word processing), we recommend Evernote. Fried hard drive? No worries. You can store your notes in the cloud and access it from multiple devices.  In addition, make sure to sync your calendar/task manager apps across your devices so no assignment falls through the cracks.

But for all the time management apps out there, none can prepare you for getting stumped on a homework problem. If you’re the type of student who works through math homework at night/on weekends, then your calendar won’t save you; but a tutor might.

Yup is a 1:1 tutoring app that pairs students with a live tutor in a text message interface. These world-class tutors are undergraduates (or higher) at schools like MIT and Stanford or have backgrounds in teaching math, physics and/or chemistry. Instead of other services that provide you with a quick answer (and no explanation), Yup’s tutors create a dialogue with you until you reach a conceptual understanding of the problem.

So before you get frustrated with homework and reach for the virtual reality goggles (while it does seem like a great distraction), swipe on over to Yup, snap a pic of your problem, and  crush the problem set first.


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Why aren’t more students meditating?

Meditation Middle School
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 6: Students from the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School take part in a meditation session during class Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post)

According to a psychological study on American teenagers, 27% reported experiencing “extreme stress” during the school year. 34% of teens expect to feel even more stressed in the coming year.

Many stress management strategists have given suggestions to reduce these rising numbers, ranging from physical relaxation stimulus to sleep efficiency. As online math tutors, we hear from stressed-out students every day. Yup is a unique mobile tutoring app that helps you battle homework anxiety. Technology, combined with healthy studying and lifestyle habits, can all reduce stress. But there’s one often overlooked factor:

Meditation.

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