One year after teaming up with Texas Instruments to launch the "We All Use Math Every Day" program in classrooms around the country, CBS' Numbers (Fridays at 10 pm/ET) is earning extra credit by reuniting with the educational leaders to introduce a Spanish-language initiative. We caught up with David Krumholtz, who plays brainy crime-solver Charlie, to find out what he's learned from playing a prime-time genius, why he's attending math conventions in his spare time, and how he makes schoolteachers scream like little girls.
TVGuide.com: How did Numbers go from pure entertainment to an educational tool used in schools?
Texas Instruments approached CBS at the beginning of our second season with a brilliant idea. What they proposed was they would put together a team of math teachers who would put together worksheets based on the math used in every episode. Teachers go online to CBS.com to order the Texas Instruments program and get a package with a bunch of posters from the show, calculator covers with the Numbers logo, and worksheets to supplement their normal math classes each week.
TVGuide.com: Nearly 40,000 math teachers have already given the show an A-plus. Why do you think it's been such a widespread success?
If I had had this kind of program when I was in school, I certainly would have taken a greater interest [in the subject]. The teachers are encouraged to tape the mathematical segments of the show so they can play them for the class. Then the class has worksheets that are basically a bunch of Numbers quizzes to make math more fun in the classroom. That takes up a good 10 of the 40 minutes and, before you know it, the period has gone by.
TVGuide.com: In high school, were you as good at math as Charlie?
Krumholtz: [Laughs] Boy, I hated it! To me, it was a bunch of chalk on a board, which made no sense. I didn't see how it would apply to my life at all. I had real trouble with it, and I flunked hardcore. It really did become the bane of my existence.
TVGuide.com: And now?
Krumholtz: Now it's come back to haunt me in a wonderful way.
TVGuide.com: Has playing a mathematical genius enlightened you at all?
For the most part, the math on our show is very advanced — genius math — so you have to be a very special kind of person to get what they're doing. To say I've learned stuff is a bit of an overstatement. But I certainly have been enlightened. Not everything is as random as it seems. There is some sort of order to this chaos.
TVGuide.com: Have you met any of the students or teachers through your involvement with "We All Use Math Every Day"?
Yeah. There are these math conventions all over the country and Texas Instruments has invited us to a few of them, so we meet people from [everywhere]. It's a really cool night because they're the people carrying our message to the students. And, the way they see it, we're carrying their message to the parents. It's a nice little symbiotic relationship.
TVGuide.com: Tell us the truth: Are math conventions, like, teachers' version of spring break?
Look, when I was in school I hated my math teachers because I had so much trouble with math. But it's cool to walk into an auditorium filled with 1,000 of them and have them get up and cheer for you. Frankly, some of them act like little girls. They scream and yell like Beatles fans. A couple have asked me to marry them. It's not bad for the ego!
TVGuide.com: Any future prospects?
There was one lady with a poster that said, "Charlie, will you marry me?" That was funny. My girlfriend didn't love that.
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