Zaid Siyed is founder of HoopMath Academy, an online learning platform to help young Muslims become more passionate about mathematics. He delivers live programs at mosques, youth groups and schools in southern California.
Zaid has always enjoyed maths but noticed that many kids were not as interested in improving their maths skills. His goal is to show kids how to enjoy maths by incorporating sports analogies and metaphors in to his educational programs. We had a chat with him to find out more.
Q and A with Zaid Siyed
What’s your story?
From a young age, I was inspired by the great Muslim mathematicians and scholars in our history. Things like learning algebra became much more appealing when I found out it was invented by a Muslim, Al- Khwarizmi. Trips to the library became a lot more fun when I learned about the greatness of the Dar-al-Hikmah, and how it made Muslims the center of academia for many years. These influences made me appreciate the subject and the better I got the more I enjoyed it.
After three years of calculus and statistics at college I am now starting my senior year and feel it’s time to spread my passion for maths to kids in the community.
I created presentation called the “The Divine Beauty of Maths”, where I demonstrated fun maths tricks and how maths was important to Islam. I began presenting to mosques and schools and this was the start of HoopMath Academy.
How do you balance your work schedule with your faith?
I am very fortunate that my high school schedule makes it easy for me to balance Islam and work. In fact, being on time with prayers helps me structure my day and keep my academic schedule on track as well. The challenge comes during Ramadan because it usually falls at the same time as my finals. During that time, I make sure to keep a good sleep schedule and get support from my parents and siblings too.
What is your daily quarantine routine?
The first and most important step in my routine is waking up early. This helps me start the day with a win and gets me in a productive mindset. Before school begins I will work on college apps, online courses and most importantly HoopMath. I also keep track of my emails to see if I have any new students interested in a tutoring session. I take small breaks between work sessions to eat, pray and stay in contact with friends. I always end the night by working out and playing basketball with my brother. We’re both Lakers fans and also love watching their games after a hard day’s work.
Are there any new projects you’ve started in quarantine?
I started working on a COVID-19 help section of my website (hoopmath.org). I made flyers for two mini-programs I am offering. I decided to switch to online mini-programs, which I am offering every friday. Each one has a different theme which is usually based around sports.
Quarantine also gave me an opportunity to focus on projects within HoopMath Academy that hadn’t gotten enough attention in the past. I was able to work on developing my curriculum that focuses on blending sports and maths to create a more engaging experience for students.
Any tips for someone starting a new venture?
As I’m approaching the end of high school, I have important advice for the youth in our community. One of the biggest favours we can do for ourselves is learning to love learning. I believe there’s no reason to dislike school and make it harder for yourself, and instead we should try to find aspects and applications that will help us enjoy our studies.
What’s been the highlight for you so far?
My biggest highlight is modest, but very personal to me. After my first “Divine Beauty of Math” presentation, I had one member of the audience come up and talk to me for almost twenty minutes about the maths behind the presentation. It was extremely rewarding to see such interest and enthusiasm from a young Muslim. This was the moment that made me want to keep presenting and turn HoopMath into a long-term project.
If you were a website or an app – which app would you be and why?
I think the only possible answer for me is my own Hoopmath.org website, as it represents my biggest goals and inspirations over the last couple of years. I will continue to pursue and develop these goals in college, inshallah.