Teen Math Wizards Summon Success
Teen Duo Kaitlyn Markham and Karina Zaveri transform learning struggles into success with MathMagicians Camp, supported by Dragon Kim Foundation.
By Naya Seth
Photo provided by Kaitlyn Markham and Karina Zaveri
Meet Kaitlyn Markham and Karina Zaveri! These two 16-year-olds from Xavier College Prep co-founded the MathMagicians Camp for students aged 5 to 10 who either have a learning disorder or struggle with math. They were able to achieve this with help from the Dragon Kim Foundation.
The Dragon Kim Foundation (DKF) offers two programs: the Fellowship Program and the Music Program. It was through the Fellowship Program that Karina and Kaitlyn brought their vision to life. This program is open to high schoolers from Arizona, Nevada, or California who are looking to create positive change in their communities. It accepts applications for service project ideas from November to January, with only a select number of students or teams being accepted.
The Dragon Fellows put their projects into motion from March to August, receiving support from a mentor tailored to the project’s focus, three weekends for building leadership and business skills, and a grant of up to $5,000 to launch their idea. By August, all the projects have either been completed or reached a major milestone. The Dragon Fellows then attend a celebratory graduation to share their results. Three special projects are chosen from the graduation to compete in the Dragon Challenge at a gala in September, with the winners receiving additional funding from the DKF.
Karina and Kaitlyn partnered up after hearing about the DKF, united by their shared love of math. Karina’s firsthand experience with friends struggling with ADHD or dyslexia in a fast-paced learning environment motivated them to create the camp. After applying to the DKF through a short answer response and a brief video, they were accepted and partnered with a mentor. They also spent three weekends enhancing their confidence, public speaking, and leadership skills.
The DKF provided $5,000, used for items such as games, advertising, snacks, water, and t-shirts for campers. After exploring various locations, they settled on the Franciscan Renewal Center, in Paradise Valley, which was donated to them. They reached out to local schools to promote the camp and develop their curriculum. Their first main week of camp ran from June 12 to 16, followed by day camps from July 10 to 12, with around 70 campers attending.
A typical day at MathMagicians camp included a brief icebreaker, followed by rotations through different math-related games, with 15 to 20 minutes at each station. High school volunteers assisted in running the camp. The girls plan to continue the camp next year, aiming to expand its reach in the community through more volunteers and locations.
Karina and Kaitlyn not only learned about entrepreneurship but also gained valuable lessons in perseverance. As Kaitlyn reflects, being a teenager means that people may not always take you seriously, but they’ve shown that they can make a difference regardless of their age. Their advice to other young innovators is to pursue what they’re passionate about, as they can indeed create change.
For more information about the DKF, visit dragonkimfoundation.org. Details about the MathMagicians Camp are available on their Instagram at @mathmagicianss.