Social Impact Internships: Lauren Aguilar (’25)
Hello! My name is Lauren Aguilar, and I am a rising sophomore from Houston, Texas. I am currently pursuing a double major in mathematics and civil and environmental engineering (Course 18 & 1). This summer, I worked at Almost Fun, a virtual math learning platform whose mission is to ensure low-income students and BIPOC students have culturally-responsive, accessible, and engaging educational resources that empower their learning. I worked as an animator, and was tasked with animating 3 Act puzzles, which are a teacher resource created to help students visualize math concepts. For example, to help students visualize addition, I animated growing towers that represented numbers being summed together. To help them visualize subtraction, I animated deepening holes.
All of my animations came from the minds of three brilliant teachers: Grace Kossia, Katie Wood, and Alisha Isable. I worked closely with these three women, along with Almost Fun founder Lisa Wang (whom I will discuss later). Working with these three wonderful teachers has inspired me more than I ever believed possible. Never have I met three individuals who care so much about the learning process. They approach every animation deeply caring that the concept is presented as clearly as possible, so any student can understand the material. They develop creative and culturally relevant representations of mathematical concepts for all students to enjoy. Most importantly, this group of teachers constantly demonstrates the importance of collaborative thinking. During our 3 Act Task Discussions, each teacher presents their own idea, but all team members provide feedback on every presentation so that they can all produce the best possible math product.
I never had the opportunity to interact with teachers in the construction of curriculum before, and I valued hearing their insights. For example, because of their interactions with students, they could predict when a certain animation would be confusing and feed into a student’s mathematical misconception. Additionally, they knew so much about the math curriculum within the United States. I had never heard that much about the standards or the Common Core, and it was interesting to engage in conversations with them about their thoughts on the US math curriculum.
This leads to another one of my favorite parts of my internship–the weekly Stand-Up and discussion. Each Wednesday, all team members would join a call and discuss the work they finished the previous week. If I were to ever create a start-up, this meeting is definitely a habit that I would adopt. When every member of the team explains their work to the rest of the group, one really feels a sense of community. I’m always inspired to work harder after each group Stand-Up. After Stand-Up, there is a discussion based on an article chosen by a fellow team member. For example, we have had discussions about gaming and education, the Common Core, mathematical literacy, and much more! Again, engaging in conversation about education with teachers was fascinating. As a student, I haven’t had the opportunity to think from a teacher’s perspective when approaching dialogue concerning education and the development of curriculum. Hearing a teacher’s perspective on these discussion topics was fascinating.
Finally, I learned so much from my mentor, Lisa Wang. Lisa is the founder of Almost Fun, who left her job at Google to pursue her dream of creating an edtech nonprofit. Lisa is one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. She is involved in every aspect of Almost Fun, from the creation of curriculum to applying for funding, and even codes parts of the website. She is incredibly kind, knowledgeable, and well-spoken, and gave me career advice that I will follow for the rest of my career journey. Lisa is what a leader should be.
My time at Almost Fun has been amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this company.