An Appetite for Curiosity with Tai Poole
Spirit of Math Podcast Episode #6
In this episode, hosts Kim Langen and Nathan Langen interview Tai Poole, a self professed “frustrated” 8th grader who is always searching for answers. A student at Spirit of Math since grade 3, Tai represented Canada twice at the World Mathematical Olympiad in Seoul and Beijing, and is an accomplished pianist and a dedicated swimmer. Born in Vietnam, Tai moved to Canada when he was three years old and has remained a world traveler with an insatiable curiosity. His podcast, “Tai Asks Why”, is currently recording its third season, and will be out late 2020 on CBC Podcasts.
About Tai Poole
Tai Poole is only 13 years old, but he’s 100 percent dedicated to asking life’s toughest questions such as: What are animals saying to each other?; Why is space so dark?; What is the science behind bullying?
Welcome to another episode of the podcast where we interview
extraordinary people that have had impact to those around or
to the people around the world.
Since you say in this great place so where I’m
really excited to introduce someone who is a Spirit of
or actually he still is a Spirit of Math student
who studies with us and is pretty amazing what he
Yeah, so he was interviewed at the most recent spirit
of math conference.
This is in front of a 100 people and just
seeing his personality and how holds himself was actually quite
I’ve actually had the chance to travel with him to
Korea and in China,
so Tai Poole is only 13 years old but 100%
dedicated to asking questions like what are animals saying to
Why is space so dark?
What is the science behind bullying?
So you should join Tai as he boldly go where
no 8th grader has gone before to find your answers.
You never knew you needed on the award winning CBC
podcasts Tai asks why and that is the brief intro
to tie in his podcast.
So Tai Poole is a frustrated 8th grader was almost
searching for answers.
A student at a spirit of math,
since Grade 3. Tai represented Canada twice at the world
mathematical Olympiad in Seoul and Beijing.
That for a first accessible and it is an accomplished
pianist and dedicated swimmer.
He was born in Vietnam,
time moved to Canada. We use three years old and
has remained a world traveler with an insatiable curiosity.
In the podcast Tai asks Why is currently recording its
third season and will be open late 2020 on CBC
you can find his podcasts at www.cbc.ca/radio/taiaskswhy,
and so his name is T A I Tai
Tai asks why. I would say definitely check it out.
Really amazing the questions he asks is phenomenal and so
I think even adults aren’t would be interested in listening
to it while I listen to this interview with with
tying myself to look at.
First of all his character,
his inquisitiveness and his curiosity,
which is something that today in education we say is
one of the most important traits of person has.
There are several traits. One is rigor and the other
is discipline and another one is curiosity
And the more we can get an improved curiosity and
children than the better they are at problem solving because
they’re starting to ask right questions.
So as you listen to this,
have a look at really how he is the types
how many responses, incredible, how quickly in response is inquisitiveness
the fact that he’s a risk taker?
He’s not scared to try things and he doesn’t hesitate
to do things instead.
Johnson, with both feet and he wants to just explore
and see what this world is about.
So once again, listen to in carefully and also listen
to his questions and how he responds to me and
where he takes his answers.
It’s really fascinating in this exciting.
Hello. Yes. So I make a podcast with the CBC
and I go round an.
I’m inquisitive like you said,
thank you and I just go when I ask questions
and Fortunately ’cause I’m doing it with the CBC.
I have a little more connections,
a little bit more reputation that I would at the
So I get to talk to some really awesome people
about just questions that I have.
And you know, I want to make sure I make
the most of it.
What kind of questions do you think about?
Well, they’re all kind of like scientific,
but it’s like a philosophical thing,
so it’s a real scientific answer to some stuff like
Things like dreams and Love and death.
Question question. Alright, so when you’re looking at dreams and
Love and death,
who do you go to to ask these questions?
Or do you answer them all yourself?
Oh I, I don’t really know the answer as well.
I do now, but I go to yeah,
I do now. That’s the point of the broadcast,
but. I just I interview a variety of people about
many different subjects.
I’ve like, interviewed NASA. I’ve interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson that
is my personal hero that was amazing,
and just I interview people who are like the best
of their field in a really passionate what they’re talking
about so they can,
you know, match my passion about the topic to come.
So when you’re talking to them,
how do you prepare for this?
OK, so all again will get an email or like
A little Google form, not Google Sheet,
and it’ll be like you’re enjoying this person at this
So I just like to go on my computer like
to like type stuff up and I like to kind
of do like a little bit of like an extensive
background research ’cause you know,
I find it’s always good to know how important and
all you know to be awestruck,
because the more I’m like,
oh OK, that’s This person.
The more I can be,
I feel like it better is Mindtree,
’cause I’m like, you know,
I can’t waste. I can’t possibly waste their time.
They could be inventing things again,
this time interesting. So in the very beginning,
before you started this like.
What made you think of doing this and how did
you get into it?
Stroke of Luck and there’s a really long story and
I think I have 30 minutes so time to go
on a super long rent guys know.
So in Grade 4 eyed this great teach I this
great teacher right?
And he was friends with another CBC podcast maker name
so keenly for a podcast called sleepover and for the
podcast she needed a kid so he put me up
for it and I met the producer of this podcast
while filming the episode.
Veronica Simmons, who was super nice and I feel like
we we hit it off pretty well as this story
And then a couple years later you know I’m just
chilling on my couch.
I just finished my homework,
so I’m doing some video games and then I hear
this bloodcurdling scream from my mom’s room and I thought
that she was like stacked or something and I totally
freaked out. And then she says that she just got
From Veronica Simmons saying that she just would like to
try to meet up with me again and maybe talk
about the potential my own spinoff broadcast.
So we talked about it and then we did long
trial and error.
We had to think of the idea,
pitch it and then we got to make a pilot
Super Lucky. I think you know they just thought I
I was just key in there like.
So then we develop this pilot and then you know,
I feel like the two of us really teamed up
when we showed them what we’re made of.
And then they said, Yeah.
So what made you think of this pilot?
The carriage? Come up with it.
Well, it was a lot of brain storming,
mirror, a lot of really wacky ideas over your other
Well, one of the other ideas were supposed to be
the other way around.
Kinda like people came to me.
It was kind of like I think it was like.
Something originally like Doctor Phil or something,
and it’s just the skate or something,
but there’s a lot of really weird ideas,
but none of them really hit it off in the
same way that you know.
I was curious and at the end of the episode,
I’m not curious. I want to ask you something that’s
a little different.
What do you do in your free time?
Well, I have a, you know if I’m not trying
to deal with homework which is homework or extracurriculars,
like I do piano and I swim and I’ve scared
I’m actually a student here too,
which is awesome, which is awesome.
It’s a great yes, but just to just to be.
st to try to be subtle about it,
but other than that you know I just like to
I hang out with friends.
I did play video games.
OK, So what did your friend say about you in
What, yeah? Well, I’ve been asked this question many times
and I’d like to answer.
I don’t like to mix business with pleasure.
OK, so. Do you not find pleasure in business Ono
I just feel like a lot of the time.
You know it’s more just like an alter ego.
They don’t really know about this other tie.
There’s like professional time. That’s a great interview.
And then there’s the other time that’s just hangs out.
Good shot I. You seem to really enjoy this.
Yeah yeah, what do you think makes you enjoy it?
What is it you know?
You know when you’re curious about something and then you
go to ask your dad or your mom and then
you’re like hold on.
You know they don’t have any idea because it’s like
complex molecular astrophysics or something like that,
and it’s super complicated. You know they have no idea,
so you’re just curious. You can go on Google and
then Google will like answer the question like 1/2 hearted
way and you get a whole bunch of targeted ads
for like telescopes or something and you just don’t really
know when that’s the thing.
Curiosity is just such a great way to drive you
to do things that you know if you’re curious.
And since I’m getting these questions answered finally.
No offence mom major in this David Thing.
It’s just such a good feeling.
You know, it really is a good drive and you
want to strive for more answers and it’s you know,
driven by your own curiosity.
Well, that’s really interesting. You say curiosity?
How do you develop a curiosity?
’cause I? This is one thing I’ve noticed about you
is you’re always very curious.
And how do you think like?
Where does that come from and how do you develop
What do you think? I don’t really know,
but I feel like a lot of it can be
like maybe observation of the world and things ’cause you
just you see things and you know you know how
science and math tries to explain everything that happens.
So I think it’s just you.
Just see things and you experience things and then you
just wonder how it works.
Yeah, it’s interesting, you said that.
So. Can I just ask you one other places and
Have you had that allows you to learn?
Well, Fortunately, we’ve been our families been lucky enough to
be able to travel quite often and a lot.
We also like to go to New Zealand a lot,
which is where my mom’s from and it’s such a
great place and it seems like it seems like your
The country like the big massive island full of them
Happy and you know it was also born in Vietnam,
so we go there a lot too and it’s just
really interesting just to see you know how you can
go to a totally different place and it’s just such
a different environment in landscape ’cause you know it’s a
Otherwise it wouldn’t be very interesting,
and it’s just super interesting to see like how things
but also how things are the same.
You know that in the food?
Yeah, so just being exposed to that I guess is
right? Does anyone have some questions?
I have? One more question I’m going to ask him.
At Thai at the end,
Favorite video games?
Well, I tend to be passionate about the new Super
Smash Bros Ultimate game.
OK, good any other questions?
Super excited for Terry Bogard.
For anyone in the crowd.
The purpose of your long hair is there a meaning
Yes, it’s like it stores all my knowledge.
Now I just. I like long hair.
I just kinda like. I just one of these times
I just threw it out and they never was like
well I want to get a haircut and then he
just got along like wow,
this is nice. I’m sorry.
How are you applying all your different knowledge that you
acquire from different people?
Well, you know again, like other than outside,
just having the curiosity I can’t.
I won’t necessarily find a very important use for figuring
out the trends in dolphin communication.
May be in school. It’s not like necessarily blood.
Maybe an aquarium, but other than that,
I just. I think it will be important because then
went later when I grow up and I try to
see what I want to pursue.
If I want to be like a scientist or an
I want to try to innovate.
Or invent or anything like that.
I just feel like it’s very important to know a
lot about things so I can understand and I can
use that for further inquiries and applications.
The one thing I will be there in a second
one thing I think is really cool is that this
is also being used for curriculum now and there’s actually
a whole curriculum being created around all of these series,
so you can even look it up and see some
So it’s not just about what you’re going to use
is what everybody else can use it for,
and you’re bringing that. Write out two to kids is
really nice and I question over there quickly.
My dad always explains this one really well,
but he’s in Australia so I don’t.
It wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be a great time right now.
It’s like 5 in the morning,
but I don’t know. I just felt like from a
very young age.
You know everyone. Everyone has their thing.
Everyone likes math. Are you really into like football or
something like that?
I just had a very young age.
I just liked math because math seems just to be
It’s just logic. It’s just this and this only make
that and then you use that to get more advanced
and more and more advanced an it’s all patterns and
there’s just these. Very strict rules about how things work
and other than that it’s just a total sandbox free
to do whatever spec divide by zero.
Maybe one day you’ll figure out something better than divide
OK, actually it’s a very good answer.
Yesterday some people were talking about that and why learn
math and what’s exciting about math and you’ve just answered
that really nicely.
How’s traffic impact? Just I really like the travel because
it’s another good way to just see the world from
a different way.
Help expand your views on things because you know,
like my brother was born in Canada and I guess
if we never traveled like it just it kind of
limits how you see things and when you just go
to new places and experience totally different things.
It’s just such an enlightening experience to just be able
understand and just, you know experience like I just said.
Things in a new light.
You get to just.
Experience, sorry that was that was super cyclical,
but. What was the question?
How do you ask the right questions?
I don’t know a lot of the times I just
ask a question and it’s like it’s right and every
once in awhile it’s wrong and then we just got
it out of the episode.
I don’t know. It’s just like you get an answer
and then you’re like,
but that also makes another question.
So then you keep asking and it makes a conversation
and you just wing it and you’re lucky enough that
Or uhm, the news movie editing magic.
It’s hard, you know, but I think you know the
important thing is that some people are driven by like
the need to get good grades and some people just
don’t really have a drive.
But like I mentioned, a little bit before we need
to try to fuel curiosity because it’s just.
It’s a. It’s not only just a drive for people
to strive to get better and learn for themselves,
which especially applies to things like school,
but it’s also self feeding,
because if you’re really able to fuel curiosity like.
You know you’ll teach them,
they’ll be gone, and you know you won’t teach them
anymore ’cause you’re like,
taught, you were taught how to teach a specific grade,
but if you can really fuel curiosity,
you know they push through the air,
they’re interested. They want to learn more,
but then after they still have,
you taught them and fueled them to be curious so
they keep asking and they keep doing things and they
just keep improving.
Feeling of discovery is really cool,
isn’t it? Yeah, that’s awesome.
You know the one where it’s like you look under
OK awesome. Alright um one more over there.
Well I’m gonna start with death and that’s that kind
of sounds like its toxin to make everyone sad,
but it wasn’t really. And the unfortunate thing about death
is that you can’t really track your observations and what’s
going on for you know semi obvious reasons you can’t
be like Oh, shoot, am I dead right now.
Oh Man, I smell pretty dead.
And then you’re just then you write it down and
that type of thing you can’t really do that.
So I did turn to a lot of philosophy and
I just one of my most important findings there was
just this revelation I got with an interview with a
rabbi and it was just.
And this is going to kind of sound like it
but the feeling of death itself is just easy,
right? ’cause it’s just you dying and you think it’s
going to be Super Scary ’cause you’re like?
You know you’re just dying,
but each everything about death.
That scary is just everything that’s just leading up to
But when you die it’s just you just you know
you just it just ends.
You just go on the journey and I found that
you know helpful because you truly get a piece ’cause
you kind of,
you know you might get freaked out that you die.
But when you die you’re just.
Like you can just very gently just be.
Send to the afterlife.
Had weird hand motions and on up slightly later topic.
For love, this is always one that I’m not always.
Super comfortable talk about it’s always makes me just kind
of like but.
I just I learn just it’s important to learn that
like although everyone you know you’re always going to have
that one dude in the room.
This love is a chemical reaction in your brain.
It drives us the main that stuff,
but although it is chemicals in a way,
that’s good because you know when you love someone like
just there’s there’s like important,
like there’s an important connection.
There’s you’re being giving chemicals,
you’re being feeling these ways because it’s an important type
And dreams are wack. I think that’s the best way
to describe them.
I have one last question and this question is.
How do you find happiness?
Feng Shuei another. Yeah. I did I did like more
than half of those.
No knows it was. I realize I was blocking almighty
was gonna bad like I live right above the stove
with my head facing there in a slanted room.
I’m not even kidding. We’re not very good at that.
So yeah, unfortunately it’s not Feng Shuei Uhm.
I don’t know, I just it seems like he just
find joy and everything right.
I just find, you know,
be happy because we’re not here forever and you know
They were not here forever,
but you know, we’re not here forever.
So just make the most of it.
If you’re always sad in life,
it’s gonna comma saki, catlike rewind or like load your
save state nothing like that you’re just make the most
of it guys that’s great.
Thank you very much. This is going thanks Kim is
And so that was a great interview.
I would definitely say I was not surprised by any
of it going to watch him grow up from 3
until now he’s going to Grade 8.
I definitely charismatic, he holds himself.
How much does this describe?
It like crazy? I remember afterwards on all the guys
that we had.
They approached my doctors and they wanted to interview as
well for their own blogs or podcasts.
Has that kind of energy that Speaker is not about
and I would also say that it’s when you need
a person like this,
especially a young child, are down person who’s on a
he said you. Behind them are awesome parents who are
pretty amazing too and his parents are.
They got energy there. Always positive there always boosting.
The model is just incredible to watch what they what
they do and how many support him than this and
I think that’s just it’s important to note that how
do you support a person like this?
Who is Excel in everything he does so there behind
them their encourage Ingham and it’s pretty exciting talkies with
I, I would say that a child who are you?
And child and youth and children who can speak with
This is a demonstration of what are you can do
and how they can really bring this world into something
quite exciting for our future.
Gotta make sure you check out this podcast at cbc.ca/radio
slash tie asks why definitely a great podcast if you’re
give it a listen. I believe assortment for all ages.
Parents as well. If you’re driving in the car,
turn it on, or if your teachers feel free to
send this out,
your parents again cbc.ca/radio slash high asks why because really,
you just want to be able to expose them to
people their age.
Asking these deep level questions and letting them know that
And I have one more thing,
and that is a lot of people right now.
Are looking to see if they can do some home
schooling and this is a great resource for home schooling.
And it’s not only because it’s good.
Information is the fact that the kids are listening to
Ask the questions and that’s pretty powerful.
So thank you so much time and thank you everybody.
Directly in description, and for those on YouTube will have
it up here or here for the first time.
Do this on last year.