Sharing space

Two Northwest students share their knowledge of math and computer science by running a nonprofit organization, Sharing Space.

After the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, juniors Prateek Singh and Kevin Li were struck with an innovative idea that later began the non-profit, Sharing Space. Inspired by the lack of connectedness and opportunity during this time of isolation and uncertainty, Li said he wanted to do something worthwhile with his free time.  

“During COVID, I was looking for a volunteering opportunity, something to do to help the community. Since there weren’t a lot of opportunities because everything was locked down, it seemed like virtual was the best option,” Li said. “So, I started teaching a group of ten middle school students [online]. “I thought that went well, so I asked some of my friends, including Prateek, to help expand the organization.” 

Sharing Space is a non-profit organization focused on math and coding. According to Singh, the concepts they teach align with middle school math and also include competition math topics. Additionally, they offer computer science-based lessons, based on the Python coding language. 

Li explained the concept and significance behind non-profit organizations, stating that Sharing Space does not collect any fees from their students and that they rather run the program for free.

There are 244 million kids without access to a proper education worldwide (UNESCO). (George Buckley)

“It’s not like a business venture; [non-profits] make education more accessible,” Li said. 

Singh said they were particularly interested in teaching competition math topics because it was something that they struggled to find support for in their middle school experience with math competitions, such as the American Mathematics Competition.

“We focus on competition math topics that aren’t normally taught in middle school, because we had an interest in it and we just wanted to help middle schoolers who wanted to be better at like AMC, or other math competitions, get better,” Singh said. 

The American Mathematics Competition (AMC) is a series of mathematics competitions that begin as early as middle school, including examinations and curriculum materials that build problem-solving skills and mathematical knowledge. According to Singh, finding support and help for these competitions in middle school was a difficult task. Because of this experience, he said he was inspired to help other students easily access the resources they need to excel at such events. 

Sophomore Srijan Singh joined Sharing Space in seventh grade. Srijan said his experience with the program has allowed him to learn more about math in an effective way. 

“[Sharing Space] is a really good environment to learn new skills and prepare yourself for future math classes, as well as other aspects of studying and things like that,” Srijan said. “I think they have a really good way [of] fitting a lot of information in such a short amount of time.”

Li described the mission of Sharing Space to be sharing knowledge and teaching kids so that they can further pursue their passions and interests. 

“We want to provide more opportunities for middle school students, [because] it feels like a lot of them probably aren’t exposed to competitive math or coding,” Li said. “If we help share our knowledge with them, they will be better prepared to pursue [these topics].” 

Starting their non-profit was a sizable undertaking, Singh said. They first registered the company legally and then started creating lesson plans for their students. He said they decided to utilize Zoom in order to connect with their students and educate them about various math and coding concepts.

We want to provide more opportunities for middle school students, [because] it feels like a lot of them probably aren’t exposed to competitive math or coding. If we help share our knowledge with them, they will be better prepared to pursue [these topics].”

— Kevin Li

According to Singh, they focused on creating a curriculum that was thoughtful and effective. Srijan agreed that the lesson plan was highly productive. 

“They would start off with a lesson by teaching all the material and then do quizzes, which [was] a good way for me to understand,” Srijan said. “We [do] all these types of problems so you can really see where you are at with that topic and if you need to review it.”

Upon seeing success, Singh said they decided to expand their class and reach out to other potential students. 

“We started advertising and marketing the classes to middle schools. We put up posters [at middle schools] and emailed principals to tell the middle schoolers about it, as well as family friends,” Singh said.  

Currently, Sharing Space has around 80 students, some of whom have been learning there for almost two years. Singh said he is grateful for the opportunity the organization presents to its students. 

“I hope that we can help share our knowledge and the stuff that we’ve learned with younger students so that they can be more prepared,” Prateek Singh said. “[Sharing Space] provides extra education opportunities for middle school students that they might [already] not have.”

Srijan also added that being a part of the Sharing Space program has left a lasting impact on him as a student.

“I’ve become a much better person at math. I’m significantly better, because I’ve learned a lot. My math skills were a little way higher with whatever they taught me in just eight hours of time,” Srijan said. 

The growth of the organization has motivated its founders to look toward broadening their horizons. 

“We might [plan] on expanding, but currently, we are focused on making our classes better. Once we see positive feedback, then we’re going to expand to more students and maybe even out [of] the state,” Singh said. 

The non-profit has had a positive impact on both its students and its founders. Li described his experience as educational. 

“I feel better about myself because I’m helping the community and helping people – changing lives,” Li said.