Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Teachers with Great Ideas on How to Teach Children Math in Somerville Win Grants!

Many teachers have great ideas on how to make their classrooms a better place for their students to learn math.  The teachers’ ideas frequently outrun the budget schools have for supplies and their own ability to subsidize their classroom.  The Somerville Mathematics Fund tries to fill this need through the generosity of their donors.  The Apple Tree Fund, CliffordLarsonAllen Foundation, Jay and Jasper, William Kuhlman, Winter Hill Bank, and Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli each sponsored a teacher's grant.  The rest of the grants were funded thanks to the combined generosity of everyone who contributed to the Math Fund’s annual fundraiser.  The following teachers won grants to encourage and support mathematics achievement in the classrooms of Somerville.

These Teacher Grants were funded by the many generous donors who together contributed enough in our annual  fundraiser to support all of them.  There is power in donations of many sizes coming together to support the larger whole.
•Julia Allen, East Somerville Community School Unidos (1st), 1st grade team math night
•Christopher Ames, Kennedy School & West Somerville Neighborhood School (Math Instructional Coach), 2nd-5th Problem Solving Program
•Allie Bahn, Argenziano School (4th), Math Games and Materials
•Charlene Buckley, West Somerville Neighborhood School (4th), Math Closet Materials for 3rd & 4th
•Caroline Martha Burkard, East Somerville Community School  (4th), math games and materials
•Maureen Cronin, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (2nd), Time & Money
•Donna Driscoll, Argenziano School and East Somerville Community School (Math Coach), Math Center Materials
•Michael Fitzpatrick, St. Catherine School, (1st), STEM problems solving activities
•Julie Gallardo, Argenziano School (3rd), Think Tank Measurement & Geometry
•Diana Garity, Argenziano School (4th), TouchMath
•Cathy Hughes, Kennedy School (1st), Reckenreks
•Debra Hurley, Kennedy School (2nd), Bee Bots
•Erin McGovern, Argenziano School  (3rd), Think Tank Number Sense & Mental Math
•Holly McMahon, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (1st),  Math Materials
•Andrea Palmer, Winter Hill Community Innovation School & Healey School (Math Coach K-5), Math Manipulatives
•Hannah de Souza Rodrigues, Argenziano School (3rd), Think Tank Problem Solving
•Roxanne Scrima & Sharon Cuddy, Kennedy School (K), Reckenreks

The Math Fund wants to thank the Apple Tree Fund for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
•Samantha Song, Kennedy School (1st), Math Manipulatives & Containers
•Barbara Strell, Healey School (K - 2nd Resource Room Teacher), Math Manipulatives
•Emily Voigt, Brown School (1st), Blocks

The Math Fund wants to thank CliffordLarson Allen Foundation for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
•Erik Roberts, East Somerville Community School (6th-8th Self-contained ELA & Math), Math Centers
•Angela Rodriguez, Argenziano School (1st), Math Centers

The Math Fund wants to thank  Jay and Jasper for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
•Danielle Shulman, West Somerville Neighborhood School (4th), 3 Chrome Books
•Gina Yarmel, Argenziano School (3rd), 3 Chrome Books

The Math Fund wants to thank each of the following for generously underwriting a teacher grant:

William Kuhlman:
•Leah Jaenicke, Argenziano School (4th Integrated - SEI), Math Games & Materials

Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli:
•Brittany Sullivan, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (5th, SEI), Math Manipulatives

The Winter Hill Bank:
•Julie Jones & Lauren McGlashing, Capuano School (K), Math Take Home Bags

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over seventeen years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded $104,060 in teacher grants in the city of Somerville.

In early April, the fund will be seeking applications from outstanding math and science students who reside in Somerville for college mathematics scholarships.  The Somerville Math Fund scholarships are $1,000/year for up to 4 years for students who lived in Somerville while in high school.  Links to the scholarship application form is available at  www.somervillemathematicsfund.org   For more information, to volunteer or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Erica Voolich (617-666-0666 or mathfund@gmail.com).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Seeking Teachers with Great Ideas in Need of a Grant for Math Materials

Every year the Somerville Mathematics Fund offers teacher grants for K-12 teachers in Somerville who have interesting and exciting ideas to support math learning and enrichment for their students.  The grant is open to teachers in all of the schools in Somerville, both public and parochial.  The grant application is on the Somerville Mathematics Fund website and is due by January 9, 2017.

The maximum amount of any grant is $500 per year.  Previous winners are welcome to apply again as long as they have completed their report on the previous grant.  You can read about last year’s grant winners on the Somerville Mathematics Blog or by requesting a copy of this year’s annual newsletter to be mailed in early December.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund, was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over sixten years, the math fund has awarded  $92,676 in teacher grants in the city of Somerville.  You might want to listen to our  TEDxSomerville talk on the work of the Somerville Math Fund
to learn about the various things the math fund is doing.

In early April, the Somerville Math Fund will be seeking applications from students who reside in Somerville for college mathematics scholarships.  The application will be available on 

For more information, to volunteer or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Erica (617-666-0666 or mathfund@gmail.com)

The link to this post is  http://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2016/11/seeking-teachers-with-great-ideas-in.html

©2016, Erica Dakin Voolich

Monday, October 31, 2016

Junk-Yard Sail: The Answer is Blowing in the Wind!

On October 30, 39 high school students on 13 teams gathered in “The Cage” in Cousins Gym at Tufts University to compete in the 12th annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Along with the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there was paper, lots of foam and foam core, plus of string and tape.  There was also a wind tunnel built in the middle of the gym.  The students were given their challenge: to build a wind powered craft to sail across the treacherous gym floor.

The teams worked intensely, building, testing and adjusting their wind powered crafts.  

They needed to build a craft that could not just cross the floor, but could get around an obstacle.  There were four contests. Teams were ranked by how they finished in each challenge, and based on the points earned, winners were chosen.

Time was called after 3 hours.  

Not only were various things used for sails, but the bodies of the crafts varied in design, materials and wheels.  Now was the time for the competition -- check out the pictures from the competition.  The teams were judged on speed, distance, steering around an obstacle, and weight carrying.  They were ranked by their finish in each event, with the first team getting 13 points, 2nd getting 12 and so on.  The winners were determined by their total score.
One of the wind powered crafts emerging from the wind tunnel.

The students' wind powered crafts competed against each other.

“Team Take Dubs” won the time and distance events.  
"Team Take Dubs"

“Da Ken Bone$” won the avoiding the obstacle, 
"Da Ken Bone$"

and “Universe Most Wanted” won the weight carrying event.
"Universe Most Wanted"
The team with the highest overall score (40), was “Team Take Dubs” (Qijiin Chau, Gabe K-G, Samuel Saron).  

There was a tie for 2nd place (35), and the tie was broken by one team having won one of the four events. The “Universe Most Wanted” (Quincy Garcia, Ben Novick, Zackery Shea) were 2nd. 
 “The 3 of Spades” (Youssef Atti, Michael Rosenberger, Shivanshu Sharma) were 3rd.
"The 3 of Spades"

There was a 3-way tie for fourth (34).  The tie was broken by the 4th place team having finished first in an event.  “Da Ken Bone$” 
(Daniel Correa, Desi Feldman, Ataur Rahman) finished fourth.  The fifth place team was determined by having a 3rd place in one event while the 6th had a 4th.  “The Bumblebees” (Tristan Brown-Vazquez, Max Nadeau, Patrick Raftery) were 5th 
"The Bumblebees"

and “The X-Men” (Zachary Dion, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Timothy Labounko) came in 6th.
"The X-Men"

The other teams competing in the competition were "Rag Tek," "Peanut Butter and Jelly with Cereal," "RTD," "AJE," "Lady Highlanders," "Tashakri," and "The Mongoyamotor."

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.    The prizes donated were:  three $100 gift cards (donated by Anne Button), four Red Sox tickets (donated by Sam Voolich), three $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, 3 $50 Amazon gift cards (donated by Jay Landers and Jasper Lawson), and 6 ice cream cone chips from Gracie’s.

This event was for both fundraising and an intellectual challenge--all funds raised go towards a Somerville Mathematics Fund scholarship for an outstanding Somerville mathematics student.  The top fundraiser was Kelly Cachimuel who won a $50 RedBones gift card and also a $20 JP Licks gift card.  All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown teeshirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff of Commercial Cleaning Service.  

Designers and refiners of the challenge were: Anne Button, Chase Duclos-Orsello, Zachary Faubion, Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Miriam Gates, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Zbigniew Nitecki, Erica Voolich, and Michael Voolich.  Rogers Foam donated the foam, Architectural Openings donated wood cuttings, Stanhope Framers donated the foam core.  Michael Morgan and Dana Lee, teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Sodexo at Suffolk University donated the food.  Michael Voolich designed the T-shirts.  

Sponsors of the event included Winter Hill Bank, East Cambridge Savings Bank, RedBones BBQ, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, Commercial Cleaning Service, Jay & Jasper, and our most wonderful host, Tufts University.  Various members of the Board worked on all aspects of organizing the event and worked to make it a success along with community volunteers. 

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville.  In January, they will be looking for teacher grant applications; and in April, they will be looking for scholarship applications.   For more information or to volunteer or to make a donation, call 617-666-0666, e-mail mathfund@gmail.com, or go to www.somervillemathematicsfund.org.

The Link to this page is http://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2016/10/scrapheap-showdown-challenge-is-coming.html

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Scrapheap Showdown Challenge is Coming! Get your Team Together NOW!

Scrapheap Showdown is Coming ... time to get your teams together.
The Somerville Math Fund's annual high school engineering challenge is coming on Sunday October 30th.
Teams of three will arrive to discover what will be their challenge to build this year.  If you're interested in seeing some of the previous years' projects, click here.

To compete you must be a high school student living in Somerville MA.  Go to this link to get all of the details.  Start organizing your team NOW, the registration is due on October 14.

In the past, the teams not only came up with creative names for their teams, but they also came up with interesting creative solutions to the annual challenges.  We always have great prizes.

Go forth and form your teams!

Good Luck!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pizza is Coming! You need to Come Too!


Please join us sometime between  6 and 9  pm on September 20th at Flatbread’s in Davis Square for the first ever Somerville Math Fund Flatbread Fundraiser!

Pizza?  Yes Pizza!  Somerville Math Nights always have pizza, so why not have a pizza fundraiser for the Math Fund!

Of course!

There will be a raffle (tickets on sale starting at 6) with winners drawn at 9.
You do not have to be present at 9 to win -- just write neatly so we can deliver the prize (or bring some of those address labels you get in the mail to stick on the back of the raffle tickets).

The Somerville Math Fund is a unique organization in Somerville that encourages and celebrates math achievement in our City through teacher grants, scholarships, family math nights, Pi day celebrations, and a high school engineering challenge.

All money raised goes towards  scholarships -- so eat pizza, buy raffle tickets and help Somerville Kids!

Please support us by joining us on Tuesday, September 20th by eating pizza from Flatbread -- eat in or take out!

If you can’t make it, consider purchasing pizza that night for take-out.  The Somerville Math Fund will receive a portion of the sales of pizza that night (between 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.)  whether purchased for dine-in or take-out.

How to get to Flatbread:
Flatbread’s and Sacco’s Bowl is located at 45 Day Street, Somerville MA 02144, just outside of Davis Square. There is a parking lot next to the restaurant/bowling alley with pay-per-hour parking. It’s also a 2-minute walk from the Davis Sq. T station.

Click here for directions.  Google Maps here

We look forward to meeting and visiting with everyone about what the Somerville Math Fund is doing to help the kids in Somerville, so come and join us!

I Look forward to seeing you on the 20th at FlatBread!

Come eat pizza, learn about the work of the Somerville Math Fund, visit with your friends and families and help raise scholarship money.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Outstanding Math Students are Somerville Math Fund Scholarship Winners

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is pleased to announce the winners of their renewable mathematics scholarships for 2016.  The Math Fund was founded to celebrate and encourage math achievement and these students deserve to be celebrated for their work in math and science while in high school.

Erica Voolich congratulates Christina Bissereth for
winning the Dr. Alice T Schafer Mathematics Scholarship

Christina Bissereth will attend Boston University, Anmol Bhargo & Ashutosh Bhargo & Belal Sohel will attend Suffolk University and Anmol Saini will attend Wentworth Institute of Technology.  Their scholarships of $1000 are renewable for up to a total of four years as long as they maintain a B average and take mathematics or courses which use mathematics.

Erica Voolich congratulates Ashutosh Bhargo, Anmol Bhargo, Anmol Saini,
and Belal Sohel for winning Somerville Mathematics Fund Scholarships.

One of the scholarships was given in the memory of an outstanding woman mathematician, Dr. Alice T Schafer scholarship.

Christina Bissereth won the Alice T Schafer Scholarship.  She is planning to study engineering.  Dr. Schafer (1915 - 1909) was orphaned as an infant and raised by two aunts.  When she went to college at the University of Richmond of Virginia, women students weren’t allowed in the library and she was discouraged from majoring in mathematics.  She won prizes, earned a PhD, taught at colleges (including Wellesley) and among the things she is known for is helping start the Association for Women in Mathematics (1971).  Less known about Dr. Schafer was her helping to start the Somerville Mathematics Fund in 2000 -- attending all of the planning meetings and contributing to their work as long as she was able.  She is remembered for her passion and work to insure mathematical opportunities for women. Since Dr. Schafer was committed to the education and supporting women in mathematics, Christina’s study of engineering is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Schafer's memory.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. It May 2011, it was recognized as the outstanding Dollars for Scholars Chapter in New England.  Since it's founding, it has awarded $260,000 in mathematics scholarships to outstanding Somerville students.  Next fall, The Somerville Mathematics Fund will be seeking applications from teachers who teach in the city of Somerville who would like funding for classroom mathematics activities.  In October, the Math Fund will also be seeking high school students to compete in the annual Scrapheap Showdown.  For more  information, to volunteer, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Erica Voolich (617-666-0666 or mathfund@gmail.com) or go to www.somervillemathematicsfund.org.

The link to this page is https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2016/06/outstanding-math-students-are.html

©2016, Erica Dakin Voolich

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pizza, then Pi and finally Pies — What More Can You Want on a Well-Rounded Pi Day?

Estimating how far a bike wheel will roll in 2.5 revolutions.

Monday, March 14 is Pi Day (3.14) -- but not just any π day, it was a Well-Rounded π Day because it is 2016:  3.14.16!  3.159… rounds off to 3.16.  What better excuse is there to have a celebration of math with middle schoolers than π?     
Drawing a circle using an inscribed triangle in a circle.

Last Friday night, well over 250 students, parents, teachers, and volunteers  from the high school, PTA and community, celebrated π  at the East Somerville Community School by eating pizza for dinner, then spending an evening estimating, creating, collecting data, answering questions, and ending with pies for everyone. 
Pitching pennies to determine which is a more challenging target
the circle in a square or the square in a circle.

After enjoying pizza donated by the Bickoff family of the Commercial Cleaning Service (discounted by White Sport), the students from ESCS, who were joined by students from Healey, Argenziano, West Somerville, and Brown schools went around to a wide variety of math activities set up in the gym.  
Making Pi Buttons

These activities included: bicycle wheel roll, guessing contest, tooth pick drop (Buffon Needle problem), drawing a circle the size of a CD, mystery boxes, π button design, π facts quiz, birthday in π, circle in square vs square in circle, drawing cardioid or nephroid, drawing concentric circles by folding, drawing circles by tangents, drawing circle by right angles, predicting how high of a pour, graphing circumference vs diameter, predicting circumferences in mm by feel of objects in mystery boxes, and predicting volume in cubic cm. of various spheres.
Drawing a circle using tangents.

The event was planned by Scott Weaver (ESCS), Wil Jacques (Healey), and Erica Voolich (Somerville Mathematics Fund).  Table Talk Pies of Worcester generously supplied small pies for all who came that night and large pies for the winners of events.  Table Talk has generously supported this Somerville Math Fund event for thirteen years. 
Tossing toothpicks to calculate pi using Buffon's Needle formula.

When planning the first SMF π Night in 2003, the Math Fund called the Table Talk Pi Company and explained what π day was and Table Talk generously donated large pies for prizes and small pies for everyone.  Thirteen years later, Table Talk Pies is not only still donating to the the Somerville Pi night celebration, but to many more celebrations.   In fact, this year Table Talk donated than 47,242 pies to schools and organizations celebrating pi day.
Taking a quiz on Pi Facts.

A big thank you to all the volunteers and donors who made this fun, educational evening possible.  It takes a community to celebrate π day!
Graphing circumference vs diameter using various sized circles.
Drawing circles using inscribed triangles.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund, was founded in 2000 with the mission to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville MA.  In April they will be looking for applications for renewable college mathematics scholarships.  For more information or to make a donation or to volunteer, www.somervillemathematicsfund.org or mathfund@gmail.com or call 617-666-0666.
Drawing cardioids and nephroids using lines.

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2016