Student Life

Crystal Student Develops Online Textbook for CK-12.Org: Joshua Zeitlin

By Sarina D. ’19 

He may only be a freshman, but you’d never know it by watching him in math class. He tackles challenging problems that take up the entire white board, asks questions that stump even his teacher, and explains his solutions clearly and thoroughly to his class of mostly seniors. Joshua Zeitlin ‘22 is a math whiz, who as a freshman, is taking Calculus II-III, participates in math circles, and is even developing an online textbook for CK-12 education, a “less known but superior version of Khan academy.”

But surprisingly, Josh only recognized his passion for math last year as an 8th Grade. “I was attending Sal Khan’s school,” he told us. “And it’s a school that was trying to change education paradigms, so I got to do a lot of extra math at that school and realized I really liked it.” So his passion took off from there. Over the summer, Josh applied for an internship with CK-12 education, and the CEO was so impressed with him that she let him work on the project of developing an online textbook. While many kids were enjoying their last summer before high school by attending camps or hanging out with friends, Josh was working 9-5 on creating this textbook and thinking critically about the problems that would be in it. But his love of math did not end with the warm weather. Over the school year, Josh participates in math circles about three-times a week, problem solving with other peers, listening to lecturers, and learning about new concepts. Each quarter, the professor who leads the math circle will present the students with a new topic to work on. The students then get to learn about the nuances of the topic, and try problems themselves. These experiences have also provided him with the opportunity  to write his own expository paper on LP spaces, which he is currently working on getting published. While Josh also participates in some math competitions, he prefers to focus on forums of math that allow him to be creative and think critically about the issues at hand without having to worry about the competition aspect. “I’m more fond of theory,” he told us.

Josh is also enjoying his year in Calculus II-III despite being the only underclassmen in his math class. “I find the class really interesting,” he explained. “And I really like Mr. Diamond.” Josh continues to be a great example of a Crystal student who developed a passion in a specific academic discipline, and continues to find forums to practice and develop it. We can’t wait to see how Josh will change and shape our understanding of complex math concepts and contribute to the field throughout his career!

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