Qatar Foundation recently launched an inquiry-based afterschool mathematics programme – QF Math Circle – to help high school students think outside the box to solve complex equations and word problems.

Organised by the student enrichment programme of Qatar Foundation Pre-University Education (PUE), weekly sessions are led by mathematics professors from three Qatar Foundation partner universities – Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) and Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) – and by Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).

CMU-Q Associate Teaching Professor of Mathematics Anthony Weston is part of a team of 12 responsible for setting up the programme.

I was most happy with the outcome and thus see the QF Math Circle as having immense potential.

Weston said that the benefit to students is clear: it will broaden and deepen their exposure to the mathematical sciences and will help students build a platform for university studies and STEM-based careers. They also get a taste of university life and the opportunity to learn from an array of active mathematicians.

Interest has been high, according to Weston. He said that even with the initial sessions of the QF Math Circle, there has been a very high level of engagement and excitement expressed by the students.

Correcting misconceptions

According to TAMUQ Mathematics professor Dr Nordine Mir, the programme was established to challenge the misconception that mathematics is just an exercise in memorising numbers and formulas.

The goal of the QF Math Circle is to correct misconceptions and to show the opposite – full of intuition and mostly concerned with understanding abstract concepts and making connections.


Dr Mir also explained that the programme offers a more flexible format compared to teaching a traditional math course. The QF Math Circle has a very flexible format where we can teach material that is outside of the box to students who are motivated and want to go beyond their boundaries. The programme not only provides a different experience for students but also for the professors involved.

Halima Bensmail, Principal Scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute, Joint Professor at HBKU and a visiting professor at TAMUQ, explained that the goal of the QF Math Circle is to teach students how to solve mathematical problems in an approachable, refined and creative way.

We try to expose them to things that will help them develop certain abilities, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical thinking, quantitative reasoning, the capacity to work with precise and complex ideas, the ability to build logical arguments and identify illogical ones, communication, and time management.

Bensmail emphasises that they want students to view math as a simple subject that only requires reasoning and logic. By approaching math problems as a game or puzzle, she said they aim to boost students’ confidence and encourage them to be relaxed when trying to solve them.

Helping students appreciate math

Huxley Lewis, a 14-year-old student at PUE’s Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST) and a member of the Math Circles programme, expressed his passion for mathematics and his eagerness to learn about topics not covered in school. He said he has a genuine passion for mathematics and wants to learn about interesting topics that they do not study in school, particularly mathematical thinking.

Huxley believes that the programme will help him develop problem-solving techniques and deepen his appreciation for the subject. He is also looking forward to learning about different teaching approaches.

Another member of the programme, 15-year-old Sofia Hadi from Qatar Academy Doha said she’s always been interested in math but felt like she never had the opportunity to explore it further at school. She said that when they introduced the initiative, she knew that it was the right opportunity for her.

The programme aims to provide students in grades 10 to 12 with an opportunity to explore advanced topics in mathematics in a collaborative and challenging environment.

For more information on the programme, including details on how to apply, please send an email to [email protected] for Qatar Foundation schools and to [email protected] for non-Qatar Foundation schools. You can also follow this link to learn more about the QF Math Circle. 

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