Pi Day, an annual celebration of one of math’s most famous numbers observed worldwide by eating pies and pizzas, is coming up on March 14. While math can be an intimidating subject, moments like Pi Day are a great way to bring fun into learning—and Photomath is dedicated to encouraging its users to embrace the ups, downs and wins of learning as a success. We chatted with Caroline Drucker, VP of marketing and communications at Photomath, to learn more. —Noa Nichol
Hi Caroline! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I joined Photomath in May of 2022 to lead Marketing and Operations. Essentially my role is to develop the right processes and bring the right people together to ensure we’re scaling thoughtfully and efficiently in our mission to make learning more accessible. I grew up in Canada but lived in Berlin for over a decade, and my family and I now call London home. I have nearly two decades’ experience in marketing and operations and before Photomath, I worked in leadership and marketing roles at Instagram, Etsy, and SoundCloud.
What is Photomath, and how did it start? What’s its aim, how does it work, and who is it for?
Photomath was created in 2014 by a dad, Damir Sabol, who found it difficult to help his kids with their math homework and explain it in simple ways. An engineer by trade who built AI models and tech products and had a solid understanding of math, he knew that if he felt confused with his kids’ math homework, then parents all over the world must be experiencing similar challenges. He set out to develop a simpler, more intuitive way for parents and their kids to learn and practice math, and Photomath was born. Over 330 million global downloads later, it’s incredible to see how the app is supporting hundreds of millions of people around the world to learn math and feel more confident doing it. The Photomath app works by using powerful AI to instantly scan, accurately solve, and intuitively explain math problems with step-by-step explanations. Essentially, our best-in-class AI can scan any math problem – whether handwritten, on your screen, or in a textbook – and then interpret those by providing intuitive solutions, all by taking a photo with any smartphone device. We want to make learning more accessible and build confidence in learners, by empowering students to learn, practice, and understand math at their own pace.
Pi Day, an annual celebration of one of math’s most famous numbers (observed worldwide by eating pies and pizzas) is coming up on March 14. Why should we all celebrate?
Pi Day is a math lover’s favourite day, and it’s celebrated worldwide by eating pies, pizza, and for some, doing math! We love to draw attention to days like this because math is all around us, every day, and we want to recognize the importance of math in our daily lives. It’s celebrated on March 14th or 3.14, which are the first three digits of pi (although it is a never-ending number). For those who might not have studied it in some time, the value of pi is approximately 3.14, and it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. And fun fact, it’s always the same for any circle of any size, no matter how big or small.
What sparked your love for math? What continues to fuel your passion to bring math/learning to others?
Like many people might unfortunately say, math was not always my favorite subject in school! I found it confusing and intimidating at times, even though I now realize and try to instill with my own kids how important, and fun, learning math can be. Understanding math is shown to help us develop better problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and it’s a fundamental part of almost everything we do. Today I get to be part of a brand that makes learning math more accessible and helps people feel more confident doing it. I get to see firsthand how we support students and have really learned to love and embrace it.
What are some pro tips to bring fun into learning math?
Math can be an intimidating subject for many. It’s important that students have more approachable, accessible ways to learn so they don’t get discouraged and can feel confident asking for help or tackling tough problems more independently. My kids’ teachers often make games out of learning, like working as a team in class to solve math steps together to win a prize, or teaching neat math hacks to make it simpler to solve fractions or remember how percentages work. It’s helped them remember that learning math can be fun and rewarding, not scary! There are so many learning styles and not everyone absorbs information the same way. For example, visual learners often benefit from seeing their teacher demonstrate each step on a white board. When they’re studying at home, they can use Photomath’s animated tutorials feature, which brings each step to life with visual cues and a voice over, similar to how their teacher might show them on a white board.
What are some falsehoods around succeeding at math that you’d love to clear up for our readers?
One of the major falsehoods in math that unfortunately many students believe is that some people are just inherently bad at math, and historically, being “good at math” often means “being smart.” This is simply not true, and can impact kids’ confidence and how they perform in school. At Photomath, we actually found that half of Canadian parents report that they have a child who has also already labeled themselves as “bad at math,” which is really disheartening. We’re trying to reverse that stigma and prevent students from falling into that mindset by reinforcing that learning is a journey–there are ups, downs, setbacks, and wins, and all of that is what helps us grow. It’s good to acknowledge those feelings as a success and remember that it’s all part of the process. Luckily, we’ve seen that many of our learners view Photomath as an indispensable part of learning, so we’re excited to help students, and their parents, build confidence while they’re learning and give them the tools and explanations they need to do that.
Despite having calculators on our phones, how is math helpful, every single day?
One thing I’ve grown to love about math is that it really is all around us and something we encounter daily; it’s much more than something you just learn in school for a period of time and don’t need again. Beyond helping to develop deeper analytical skills and logical reasoning, understanding math is a building block for long-term success. Hundreds of interesting and fun career paths require math skills, but we also use math with everyday tasks like trying new recipes, planning a road trip, shopping, or managing personal finances.
Calculus, algebra, trig; what’s your favourite type of math? And, your favourite type of pizza?!
As a student, I never knew it was possible to have a favourite type of math, but algebra is definitely mine now! I’ve realised it’s a pretty important one because you’ll continue to build on algebra fundamentals as you learn new concepts, so I found it quite gratifying to learn. On Pi Day, I’ll definitely be indulging in my favourite pizza: Tenderstem Broccoli and Pine Nuts.