Math Can Be Beautiful

I have had decades of fun playing with math with the CEO (my dad) and CTO (my brother) of Tile Farm.

I was fortunate to grow up with a family that loved math.  Math was much more than something I did at school.  Math was fulfilling in many walks of life and deepened my connection with my family.  Whether experimenting with pattern blocks, talking about symmetry in rollerblade tricks, or estimating the number of ducks at the park, we were constantly playing with math. 

As a former math teacher, I am well aware that my experience was somewhat unique.  

The traditional way math is taught in schools paints math as a rigid subject filled with memorization of facts and procedures.  There is little room for creativity or personal expression.  Math is taught, but rarely ever used.  It is no wonder a large percentage of the population has a strong and almost fearful dislike of the subject.  This is incredibly unfortunate, as there is no reason for people of all ages to miss out on the joy of doing math.

When my family started creating Tile Farm, this was at the forefront of our minds.  My dad, who has a PhD in applied math from Caltech, is always talking about how elegant, creative and beautiful math is.  Our mission at Tile Farm is to instill this love of math in people of all ages.  There is no reason why a five year old can’t express themselves creatively with math.  There is no reason why grandparents and their grandchildren can’t play together using math.

My five year old nephew recently challenged me to a Pikachu design contest in Tile Farm Studio.  My design is shown on the left, his on the right.  He clearly won this round, but I’m sure we will have many more design contests in the future.

While it has been an incredibly fulfilling experience building an impactful product with my family and best friends, inadvertently, the product itself has deepened our connections with each other.  Hardly a day goes by where we aren’t sending each other art made in Tile Farm Studio, designing a new puzzle for the kids in the family, or sharing a new trick for pattern building with each other.  My five year old nephew will FaceTime me in the mornings to challenge me to a design contest in Tile Farm Studio, my brother will text me a picture of his son playing a game I built for him yesterday, or my dad will call me late at night to tell me he has come up with a new visual proof of the Pythagorean theorem.

A pinnacle example of this came last October while visiting my dad in Albuquerque.  We were both sitting by the fireplace at night playing with Tile Farm Studio, and as our team had recently been working on designs for Tile Farm Maker, I thought it would be fun to design a pair of shoes for him as a holiday gift.  I asked him to teach me how to make his favorite tessellation (Cairo Tiles) in Tile Farm Studio, then spent the next couple hours playing with the idea to make it as beautiful as possible.

Two months later, surrounded by his children and grandchildren, my dad was overwhelmed with joy to open a present and find this pattern on a new pair of shoes.  All of his grandchildren were flocking around him with excitement yelling “Tile Farm Shoes!”

Math has provided my family with such deeply fulfilling experiences.  It has brought us love, joy, and connected us across generations.  With Tile Farm, I sincerely hope we can give this same love, joy, and connection to as many families as possible.  

The result of a lifelong collaboration:  My dad showing off a pair of shoes I gave to him as a gift, based on a pattern he taught me how to make, in an app we made together with our family.
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Alex Romero, Chief Experience Officer

Alex has an MS in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Caltech, and has extensive experience both as a research scientist and as an elementary school math and science teacher. He is passionate about art and innovation, and making the math learning experience as beautiful as possible.