Jun 4th 2017 by Daorange1 • 25 Questions • 154 Points
We will be departing from Brussels, Belgium on July 1st as a part of the Mongolia Charity Rally, and we will be driving 11,226 miles to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia all in the pursuit of delivering an ambulance to be used in rural Mongolia’s fledgling healthcare system. We purchased an Ambulance last week, and had it inspected by a mechanic. Besides a few minor issues, she’s almost prepped for the journey. Our tentative route is below. It currently takes us through 23 countries where 20 languages are spoken, and 16 different currencies are used. If you have any suggestions for places to go, things to pack, skills to learn, please let us know. Otherwise, ask away!
Ambulance Pics: http://imgur.com/a/VDOXl
Edit: Sorry for the slow responses, the new puppy required some attention http://imgur.com/a/gQdJB
Edit 2: Thanks for all the support guys. We'll try to answer the questions as soon as possible. I honestly didn't even think we would make it off the "new" page. I added the donation page for those who are interested. https://www.youcaring.com/onesmallsteppeandgohelpcharity-693232
Edit 3: Here is our playlist. Add some songs if you like! https://open.spotify.com/user/2g3n/playlist/4IaDXkaE85Kwju2Tgao5eE?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open
Edit 4: Due to numerous questions/comments, all donations and contributions we have received are going to a cash donation for the charity and towards the purchase price of the vehicle. All other expenses are coming out of our pockets.
Edit 5: Sorry guys, but it is getting pretty late here, and I've been at it for over 12 hours. I'll answer some more in the morning. Thanks for all the support!
How do you stay satisfied going over basic material year after year after exploring it in such depth in college?
What is the hardest exercise you do that appears easy to the average person, and what is the easiest one you do that looks hard?
So I just google mapped it and it looks like the "fastest" route is only about 5300 miles. Why is it so important to more than double your mileage just to hit the 23 countries? You would go through 7 if you took this faster route (although a lot of Siberia)
One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is continuously learning new things and new ways of presenting even the most basic material. People don't realize how much room there is for creativity in teaching math at all levels. The curriculum that I teach is quite broad and includes topics such as logic, geometry, combinatorics, and other areas of math. One of my favorite things to do is to take an "advanced" math topic and to come up with ways to give glimpses of it to young children.
I will give you an example. The triangle inequality is something that isn't typically covered in most math classes until high school geometry. I created an activity for 2nd and 3rd graders, in which they were able to not only explore but actually discover this "theorem" for themselves by playing with sticks of many different lengths and seeing which combinations of them can make a triangle and which ones cannot.
Well I broke my wrist 3 months ago and so doing a handstand is super difficult for me to do.
Those sideways pull-ups and front-levers are easy for me but look really hard! Because if you haven't trained for it they kind of are.
The route was a little bit of a challenge to come up with. Obviously we aren't taking the fastest route, but we thought it would be the prime combination of both sight seeing, safety, and speed. Going the Northern route, we would possibly pass through Ukraine, and due to all the conflicts there, we decided against it. Also, if we went farther North, we would spend a lot more time in Russia, and with the visa requirements for Russia, we decided it was easier to stay in Russia for the shortest amount of time possible. However, we decided not to go as far South as some teams. There are a few who are going through Iran! As Americans, we decided that would not be a good idea. As for the twists and turns in our route that seem a little random. We will be visiting some friends along the way, but when you're 3000 miles away from home, 200 extra miles doesn't seem to far to visit an old friend. Thanks for the Question!
Edit: Thanks for the Reddit gold!
Do you scream "It's DOCTOR Fradkin, NOT Miss Fradkin" and then throw an eraser at the offending child?
When you're doing those pull-ups that landed you on the front page, which muscles are you NOT working out?
Yo I'm from Mongolia and that's really tight. I'll be there in August if you wanna meet up!
Unfortunately Mongolia is very much still a developing country that is having a hard time catching up to the modern world. There is political corruption, alcohol abuse is rampant and we are landlocked so we simply sell our natural resources with no infrastructure in place to adequately grow as a nation.
It's the least densely populated country in the world, and the country side is very old-fashioned. Outhouses, wells and farming.
Thanks for making the country a little better. :)
In our school we actually go by first names and they call me Miss Sasha.
Great to hear from you! We would definitely love to meet up once we reach Mongolia in early to mid August. Please PM us, and we can try to set something up.
We appreciate the great thoughts and love to see people from Mongolia seeing this as well. Thank you!
Thank you for what you do. I tutored math for college kids and found so many people who had been traumatized to hate math when they were young.
I remember one student in particular, Beth. Beth was planning to become an elementary teacher. That's very common for strongly mathphobic students like her. An elementary ed student has to take one, single basic math course, and that's all she wanted. She came to me every week to watch and coach her through homework.
At the end of the semester, she got a decent grade (an A or B), and I thought I'd never see her again.
But she turned up once in the next semester, not because she was having trouble in math, but because she'd missed a lecture and wanted to be very sure it was as easy as the book made it sound. I was startled to find she was taking another math course. Calculus even! What's a math avoider doing in Calculus?
It turned out, that my own love for math had caught on. She'd been exposed to a culture of math achievement and independence. I wouldn't hand her homework answers, but instead helped her find them.
That changed Beth's life.
She changed her major to mathematics.
Because of me, Beth changed the whole direction of her life.
Just telling the story brings tears to my eyes.
How feasible will the upkeep of the ambulance be when it is in service in Mongolia? An ambulance that you cant get parts for isnt much help. Sorry to be a downer.
That is a wonderful story; thanks for sharing it. My coauthor actually grew up hating math because she found it formulaic and uncreative. Then she took a number theory course her freshman year of college, and was completely converted. Now she is a Computer Science professor at Columbia. I wrote a blog post about her story here: https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/from-math-hater-to-mathematician-and-computer-scientist-the-story-of-allison-bishop/
Okay, I'll ask the obvious question: Presumably with a PhD from Princeton you had a decent number of opportunities to teach and research at universities. Why did you choose to teach children and develop curriculum for kids in elementary school?
How long until you fully conquer gravity?
I can't help but notice your map showing you traveling through what appears to be North Ossetia and Inigushetia, what sort of precautions are you taking to handle the instability and corruption in these areas!?
Here are the few main reasons: 1) I saw as a big area of opportunity. 2) I felt like I could make a bigger difference here than doing research at a university. 3) It is important to me personally because I am raising two daughters. 4) I realized I really enjoy doing it!
I haven't heard many specific situations in those areas, but I have heard about just general corruption in that area. Are there specific things that have happened recently? I have heard about Chechnya and the specific issues they are having there, so we are planning to avoid it. As far as precautions, we are driving through there as fast as possible, as we have no stops planned until Volgograd. Do you have any advice or suggestions? We have a lot to plan for, so any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.
Try doing negatives but for those of a heavier stature need to focus on building the tendons and muscles in isolation first because you'll get injured if you don't.
I think you're awesome
do you make enough money to feed the said daughters and live a comfortable life? Serious question
Uhhhhh, do you fuck with the war?
It depends how the funding goes. My next door neighbor does a charity event each year. This year he did a wing-walk, next year he plans to do bungee jumping off a bridge. He pays for the event out of his own pocket, and gets people to sponsor him - that extra money goes to charity.
I 100% agree, those people who raise £3k to "walk the great wall of china for charity" are raising £2k for a holiday and £1k for charity.
I am gainfully employed and we are a dual-income household.
Great thing to point out. /u/nough32/ hit the nail on the head. We are basically doing what your neighbor does.
To clarify, all of the donations/fundraising will be going towards a cash donation to the charity as well as to the purchase price of the vehicle. Once, a minimum of $1300 for a cash donation and the purchase price of the vehicle has been raised, the excess donations will then go towards making the cash donation larger for the charity (Go Help, a U.K. based charity).
All of our repairs, food, gas, hostels, and other personal expenses will be coming out of our pockets. Thank you again to everyone for the support!
Hi Sasha! Fellow math phd here. I find it interesting that people would frame your choices as selfish and wasteful-- to me that says everything about how many people, especially in America, frame math education (and education in general) as a field for people with "not enough" talent.
We should be thrilled that more subject experts are going into education. The potential for added value coming from even one person who really loves their subject is enormous. I'm sure many of us, who have either gotten our phds or work in a math-adjacent field, can credit that one teacher who inspired us along the way. I had teachers like that in 11th and 12th grade who really changed everything for me.
How long has it taken you to build your strength as you have?
Yes, it is definitely important to have those inspiring teachers. My love of math initiated from my father who is a math and physics high school teacher. He showed me the beauty and elegance of math from an early age by giving me lots of logic puzzles and having math conversations about everyday things. I also had a few really good math teachers in high school and college as well.
My coauthor, on the other hand, had some terrible math teachers in high school and grew up hating math. Luckily, one awesome professor in college made her fall in love with it, and she is now a Computer Science professor at Columbia. More of her story here: https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/from-math-hater-to-mathematician-and-computer-scientist-the-story-of-allison-bishop/
Since High School, I am 26 now so I would say about 10 years or a little more.
None of us are runners, so we aren't planning to Forrest Gump and run cross continent. Ulaanbaatar is our final destination, and we just booked flights to fly back to London from Ulaanbaatar via Beijing. There are no direct flights unfortunately. It's around 16 hours with the layover so it's not bad. I have heard of a few people taking the Trans-Siberian railway from Ulaanbaatar back to Moscow and then flying from there.
How was your strength in high school?
This so much.
After getting my PhD (Sorbonne) I worked in my industry for a few years. The stress got to me so I quit and - no joke - got a job at the local McDonalds. I was much more happy. I did that for a few years, then started a few companies and retired by the age of 40.
Never underestimate happiness, the feeling of making a true difference, and zero career stress.
You go Sasha! Yeah!
What is your drive to stay in shape? What goes through your head in those difficult moments when you don't want to work out but you have to?
How much effort is required so that you all can get the necessary visa and passport stuff required? Otherwise it looks awesome!
I don't know about the "zero" career stress, because I can by no means call my current job "stress-free", but I agree with you on everything else. I think that for many people, one of the hard parts is actually figuring out what it is that would make them happy. I feel fortunate to have found something that I feel so passionate about.
Oh shit this is a good one. My drive is for the people who can't do it. A best friend passed away about a month ago who I served with. He can no longer do it, so I do my best to go harder for the both of us. I am not perfect but I try as best I can.
Surprisingly it was pretty easy! Of the countries we are going through, the only ones we needed to get visas for were Turkey and Russia. The Turkish visa was online, and it was instant approval. Russia was a little bit more paperwork. You need to get an invitation from a travel company and then you need to go get an actual visa from the consulate itself. Lucky for us one of the members of our team lives near the consulate in Houston. The hardest part for paperwork was the insurance on a car driven by 5 people all under 25...
Presumably you have done a fair amount of teaching at the university level, but now you're doing curriculum development for K-5. My question is: At the university level, did you ever see common misconceptions or prevalent comprehension difficulties that you believe were rooted in educational problems that started as early as K-5? If so, what were they, and how are you addressing this in your curriculum?
Sorry for your buddy, man. Great reason to keep on keeping on - I'm super jealous. You look fantastic!
I'm sure that I have a lot more freedom than public school teachers. That said, certain elements and guiding principles of my curriculum could probably be applied in any classroom setting. I do feel fortunate to have a lot of freedom in what I teach.
It is great that you have a goal of teaching students to love math and I bet that it has a great impact on them.
Unfortunately, that's probably not legal, but being bold students, we may or may not give it a try.
I'm in the midst of a math education degree and work as a private tutor for grades 7-12 , it seems like the broad underlying issue for most of my students is that they never really got on the math bandwagon when they were younger and have been playing catch up for years.
From your experiences and research, is this type of hangup as common as it seems in my experiences?
And a follow-up, in the same vein: what are the keys to getting students in the K-5 range genuinely interested in math? Or if not interested in math, at least not scared of it.
How do you like your coffee?
I love that you guys are going to try and do something good but looking at that ambulance and then thinking ahead another 12000 miles...are you not just going to be delivering a piece of junk there? Why not just send them the money instead?
I believe it's quite common.
I think that the key to getting K-5 students interested in math is by making it creative and letting them explore and discover concepts rather than imposing it upon them. You make it visual, you let them play with it.
For example, when we study nets of cubes, we actually build them with magformers and students figure out which ones can actually fold into a cube. When we study functions, they're not abstract but we literally put objects in and out of a "function machine." For example, I describe this activity here https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/kid-in-the-machine/, and there are many other such examples on my blog.
You also need to show them a wide range of topics. It is generally believed in our society that being good in math means being good at computation. However, there is so much more to math than arithmetic, and children should be shown that. I have students who struggle with arithmetic but are incredible at spacial reasoning or logic puzzles. They need to be shown that this is also math and given an opportunity to be successful at it.
The reason for delivering the car, is that the industry in Mongolia is far behind that of Europe and the US, so they can't just buy an ambulance. The ambulances have to be imported from somewhere else. While it might get a little beat up on the way there, we are having skid plates installed along with some other precautions to keep it in the best condition possible. The charity we are working with coordinates with the Mongolian government to approve the vehicles in order to make sure they are vehicles the government actually wants. Also, if the ambulance is going to be used in rural Mongolia where there are no roads, driving it there is a testament to the fact that it can actually do its job when it gets there. Thanks for the question!
As a kid many people never saw the coolest things math does. Even teachers were not great at explaining the places math could take you. As a math major finishing my degree, I am seeing the amazing connections math has to everything.
Now that you have all this knowledge, how will you demonstrate to kids the wonder and far reaches of math to inspire them?
Get ready for this one. Favorite supplement?
What made you decide to go north of the Caspian Sea instead of south, through Iran?
Sounds like you are well prepared anyway. I did the Mongol Rally in 2003 so I can confirm it's an awesome trip. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people do the same thing as you every year so you will have loads of support. Enjoy!
In the curriculum that i'm developing I make sure to cover a broad range of topics, from logic to probability theory, to geometry. I also make sure to have plenty of activities where they can explore and discover some of the math for themselves.
Here is an example, I recently did a lesson on logic using problems from Smullyan's book "What is the name of this book?" I was amazed at the freedom and depth of my students' thinking. They were really questioning all the assumptions and not just trying to look for "the one right answer."
Here is a post I made about the conversation: https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/logical-fun-part-i/ and I describe many similar in spirit lessons on my blog.
Thanks for the question. Being students, we are on a tight budget, and from what we researched, the Iranian visa itself is quite expensive and they tax the vehicle itself as well. So, we decided that would be too costly. That would also require another visa to go through Turkmenistan. We are excited for the route we are taking though! Can't wait!
"Okay kids, today I'm going to tell you a story about Hoppity the Math Bunny.
Hoppity was hopping down the lane when he saw a book lying in the road! What sort of book was it? It was a book about math, kids! We love math don't we?
And what do you suppose that Hoppity read in the book, kids? He found out it was a book about graphs! What sort of graphs do you think he read about, kids? CLAW FREE graphs, that's right.
He read all about Dr Hadwiger who was a VERY smart man who lived in Switzerland! We love Switzerland, don't we? That's where they make chocolate and cukoo clocks isn't it?
So anyway, Hoppity read that Hadwiger’s conjecture states that every graph with chromatic number χ has a clique minor of size χ. Let G be a graph on n vertices with chromatic number χ and stability number α. Then since χα ≥ n, Hadwiger’s conjecture implies that G has a clique minor of size n.
And after reading that, Hoppity was so tired he lay down in the road, and fell asleep. Then he got run over by a truck. The End."
Do you recommend rowing machines as an "at home" exercise? I do Jiu Jitsu, and do a little mountain biking, but I'm still in need of more core strength and (a lot of) conditioning. I'm 41, 6'3", about 240-250 lbs.
I had a friend do the London version of this rally. I have no questions but share a couple of tips if you'd like to read them.
1) get the European AAA-equivalent (ARC?) membership. You got the ambulance checked out, but it may not always cooperate.
2) Keep vodka bottles with you in Russia. For "gifts" (when official-types stop your vehicle). I have no idea about crossing borders with liquor, so maybe try to stock up fairly soon after crossing.
Friend's team ran out of gas, had the damn thing break down multiple times, and they even tipped it on its side in Mongolia after another truck coming head on at them was taking his half in the middle. I think it was a much older vehicle and I'm glad to see that Mongolia is enforcing some standards in these kinds of rallies. Best of luck to you!
This looks familiar :-)
Get some ab straps. I owe a lot of my core strength to them!
Those are some very good suggestions. The vodka bottles will definitely come in handy! Did they end up making it to the end?
Do you have a story about a time when your muscles and ability to lift your body/ do crazy athletic shit came in handy in the real world? It looks cool in the gym and all, but has it ever come in clutch falling off a cliff or something practical? Thank you for your service !
Hey guys. My question: Do you want a beer? I literally live on your route (south Germany) and would happily invite you for one...
This is going to sound blasphemous, but I was a Wawa girl.
Actually the opposite, my over confidence got me a broken wrist 3 months ago...
Heck yes. I'll PM you, and we could figure things out! Prost!
I am sorry I assume you speak Russian but have you heard of Приключения Капитана Нулика? It's a math-based adventure book too. I was raised on it.
Edit: prepositions, or an alternate title Фрегат Капитана Единицы
Were you doin flips and shit or just fast pull ups for the ladies? Glad to see you can grip and everything well again it seems
Are you planning to change the oil a few times on the way?
I have heard of it but haven't read it. Will check it out!
That's amazing ! There are not many people like you who are willing to follow what they believe in over making a lot of money! So mad respects for you ! Have you experienced a lot of people who criticised you over your decision/ tried to stop you?
3rd year? what's the farthest you've gotten and what are your weak points on the course?
Could you be so kind as to explain the pros and/or cons between the former traditional educational model and the rising popularity of "common core"? I want to ride they hype train as it sounds like people love it but gosh darned if my ignorance just makes it look LONGER to do. Thank you!
Can you confirm this redditors comment about Ninja Warrior: This show is bullshit.
First, what most people don’t realize is that the Common Core is not a curriculum but rather a set of standards of goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills that a student should obtain. These standards are quite reasonable, but how they’re implemented is another story. The content actually is very similar to what was there before .
And the main problem I believe is with the assessments. For example, the common core may list multiple ways to do simple addition or subtraction. Administrators see this and say, oh we must not only teach all 5 ways, but we must also test all 5 ways, and for that, we also need to give the ways names.
That is not the goal of the 5 ways though. The goal is to give children a choice and flexibility. The main failure of the common core, in my opinion is not giving support to administrators, teachers, and parents for implementing the standards.
Nothings perfect. It rained right before I went and I still had to go.
Great question! I'm surprised it took this long to get that question directly. That's the first question all of our friends (and in particular our moms who think we're going to die) ask us. Actually though, we had some friends have the adventure of a lifetime doing a similar rally a couple of years back. We wanted to seek the same adventure but thought buying a car then junking it upon arrival seemed kind of wasteful. So, we sought to find something that had a charitable aspect to this. We then came across the Mongolia Charity Rally, which aims to help improve Mongolia's fledgling healthcare infrastructure by raising awareness in a unique manner (the wild adventure), raising funds, and donating a vehicle that had stringent requirements by the charity as well as Mongolian government to qualify. We found that this rally was perfect for us. We are aiding the Mongolian government in a manner out of the ordinary/other than simply donating cash. We are able to directly impact people and see it for ourselves while also having a fulfilling adventure of a lifetime.
Sounds like a really exciting journey. How long will it take you to complete? How many other groups will there be? Have you collected all of the funds you need?
Unfortunately, the mind-numbingly boring classes are not benefiting anyone, advanced or not.
What tips would you give a young adult who grew up hating math believing it was too hard, and now wants to catch up but doesn't know where to start?
Do you have any gymnastic, dance or performance background?
Some of the moves in the longer video where you show some amazing locking of position (fake stairs/steps) are the kind of moves people practice for ages.
You're like a super mime!
I would say that "catch up" is not the way you should think about it. Rather, you should think of it as reevaluating your relationship with math. I would suggest doing some things that feel vastly different from what made you hate math in the first place. For example, play math games that aren't focused on arithmetic. Some of my favorites are: SET, SWISH, Blokus. Also, there are many great solo-game puzzles. Almost anything from ThinkFun is awesome. Watch videos by Vi Hart, read math stories such as The Number Devil, The Cat in Numberland, and our upcoming book Funville Adventures: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/419899136/funville-adventures-a-math-inspired-childrens-book
That is honestly a question I have never thought about haha. As found on bladderandbowel.org, the average person goes to the bathroom about 6-7 times a day. I would guess that means we'll need to stop about 4 times each day for at least 41 seconds: 10 to run to the bathroom, 21 to pee (the amount of time it takes every mammal to go to the bathroom no matter the size), and 10 to run back. That will add at least two whole hours of bathroom stops
Does your book try to teach math abstractly or traditionally?
When I learned math in school they just told us operations and the rules to use them with.
But my love of math really started when I learned more pure constructs like functions as a means to map from a source set to a destination set.
I realized that all the rules that people found hard to remember came from these abstract principles, where they made sense, and we're not simply arbitrarily defined.
But abstract math also seems much more complex to reason about.
So to ask my question again in a different way, is your book teaching applied mathematics or pure mathematics?
What's your favorite flavor of Crayola?
It's the little things that we're clearly going to struggle with
A few of my favorites are: The Number Devil, Cat in Numberland, What is the Name of this book? (and others by Smullyan), The Greedy Triangle, How big is a million?, How big is a foot?, books by Martin Gardner. I have more on a slightly outdated list on my blog: https://aofradkin.wordpress.com/kid-oriented-math-reads/
Consistency is key because you start to not see instant results and get discouraged. So stick with it!!
First we had to come up with the name which probably took a month (We're a very indecisive group). Then since we chose One Small Steppe, we decided it need to be an astronaut. With that idea, we sent it off to one of our friends (Shoutout to Kat), and she made this masterpiece of a design!
LMFAO, that was funny.
hello ridiculously-photogenic-pull-up-rowing-machine-marine-guy! here are some awkwardly forward questions:
How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
What's the best fitness advice you've ever received?
What's the best fitness advice you'd give someone working on getting in shape?
Remember the guy who quit? No one does...
It's going to be hard at first and you'll want to quit but don't.
Have you ever been approached to make a ridiculous infomercial for like Mike Eckert's totally insane ridiculous rowing in the air workout?
Hahaha no but I think you're on to something!
I just yawned.... I can't do leg day today...
Pull-ups, I hold the world record for most in 60 seconds
My dad once told me while I was competing, he said, why not you. I couldn't give him an answer and I wound up winning.
What running regimen do you do/use?
Who is your inspiration for being a better athlete or person overall?
And what is your favorite base you've been stationed at?
I am not the best runner but I can still make around an 18 min 3 mile. Short interval training to get the HR up helps!
I have met a lot of good and bad people and I choose to take the best qualities from them and try to inspire others. My dad would be someone I would like to be like as a person.
Does your dog enjoy showing off his bunghole as a general rule or was this a special treat just for us? 😜
Just for you all ;)
Hello Mr. Eckert! I'm about to head into my freshman year at college and want to put my time in summer to good use, physically. I've gone to the gym to work out 4x a week but want a better routine instead of what I'm doing now. Could you share your routine me/ what you think would be good for an 18 year old guy? You look amazing btw holy moly
I personally use Time as my coach. Everything is at the top of the minute and you just go till you drop. Specifically though it would take me a while to make a specific routine for you because I am a personal trainer as well. My website will be up soon and that will help you a lot so keep in touch!
275 was my max, but now... after a broken wrist I haven't even tried.