From a passive consumer to an active contributor: How the Armenian boy teaches math via youtube videos

17 y/o Sam Antonyan was born in Yerevan. He has a channel called “Mathematics for Everyone”, where he uploads instructional videos and solves various problems of different levels.

“I bring up problems that were suggested during different competitions and show the techniques for solving those problems. This way, I familiarize people with both the problems and the competitions. My message is clear: I want to inspire all the math community members of Armenia to make more efforts to trigger the interest of children in math. Math is the base for STEM fields prioritized in Armenia. Deeper interest and knowledge in Maths may assure a stronger society and science-based economics in the future,” says Sam. 

In 2018 Sam graduated from School N 130 after Nairi Zaryan, and the same year his mother had to start her doctoral degree in Educational Technologies at the University of Florida. That summer Sam moved to Gainesville, Florida. 

“I am currently a senior in Buchholz high school in Gainesville. I was very fortunate to get here since I was able to join Buchholz Math Team. Our coach- Mr. Will Frazer is a retired Wall Street bond trader, who started this club with a desire to blossom national math champions. Due to his devotion and the team members’ hard work, we have a long-lasting first place in US Mu Alpha Theta math national championships since 2007”, says Sam.

The 17-year-old confesses his journey from Armenia to Buchholz Math Club wasn’t easy. Language, culture, work ethic, education system were amongst the challenges he faced in the beginning.

“One of the most successful strategies I had adopted was learning from open resources, and specifically various online instructional videos. It helped me to catch up a lot, develop the necessary skills, and accumulate new knowledge. Through time, I more and more valued online resources and learned to use them efficiently. Looking back, I realized the importance of competitions on higher levels to succeed in Maths in my homeland Armenia. Also, they might express an interest in non-standard or textbook topics and math problems. And it doesn’t necessarily demand huge financial resources or efforts to create such resources in current technology era”, says Sam. 

He believes his thoughts would never turn to a tangible initiative if the pandemic didn’t happen. 

“I was closely watching the struggle of the students and teachers in Armenia because of the lack of online resources. So, I came up with the idea to start my own YouTube math channel in Armenian. I realized that I could change my role of the passive consumer into an active contributor. Also, from my previous experience, I already knew that I was enjoying teaching. I feel that I am growing by helping others to grow! I got inspired by this idea to help my community”. 

According to Sam, the creation and promotion of a YouTube channel is an interactive ongoing process.

“When I first started, I was thinking of creating playlists with instructional videos based on various topics. I believed that my potential target would be mostly middle or high schoolers and their teachers. I launched the channel with three topical playlists. However, based on the feedback of people in social media and my audience age group, I learned more about the preferences of my consumers. Now my feeling is that they are more interested in learning about techniques for solving various advanced math problems. So now I am mostly creating videos where I solve various problems from American math competitions and explore interesting problem-solving techniques”, he says.

For Sam, there are no specific plans with YouTube at this moment, and he will continue posting videos and communicating with everyone who shows any kind of interest in mathematics. 

“I hope my initiative will expand, and people will start their channels and math initiatives to contribute to the prosperity of the math community of Armenia!”, he sums up.

Written by Nellie Melkonyan