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.

Friday, November 20, 2009


By Lisa Mitrano

(Kindergarten teacher at the Argenziano School)

In the Somerville Public Schools, the TERC math curriculum, Investigations, is used. Kindergarten students are introduced to many important ideas and concepts such as counting, measurement, patterning, sorting, etc. In my Math Investigations Club, these skills are explored and reinforced through the reading of books, playing games and using manipulatives.

Every Thursday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:00, parents join their children in our classroom for this club. At our first session on October 22nd, there were 10 children, 7 mothers, 2 fathers, and one grandmother in attendance. After a quick snack, everyone gathered together on the rug as I read Dr. Jean’s math book There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A One about the day’s math focus skill: counting. Following this, parents and children team up and do math activities together.

As I rotated among the groups, I heard many interesting comments from the children who were thrilled to do a learning activity with a family member. I was happy when I heard, “Count with me, Mommy” and “Let’s play this game again” and I was thrilled to hear a child exclaim, “I know what number comes next!” I overheard one lady who did not speak English very well repeat the numbers from one to twenty in English after her granddaughter and then the granddaughter cried out, “Grandma, you did it!”

Young children learn how to count by having many opportunities to count and to see and hear others count. They develop strategies for counting accurately by:

  • Learning the names of the numbers in order;
  • Assigning one number to each object;
  • Counting each object once and only once;
  • Keeping track of what has been counted;
  • Seeing that the last number said represents the total number counted.

Here are the goals of my Math Investigations Club:

  • To expose students to a wide variety of math materials;
  • To integrate literature, games and math;
  • To build and strengthen the child-parent connection;
  • To allow families to play math games that are motivational, educational and fun;
  • To provide parents with a meaningful way to work with their children to strengthen, supplement and master the math curriculum.

What a wonderful experience it is to see this club in action and all the adults who dedicated quality time to spend one-on-one with their child and “play math”.

For more pictures from an afternoon at the math club, click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scrapheap Showdown, Marble Mazes meet Rube Goldberg!

Erica Dakin Voolich

On Sunday, October 25, twelve teams of Somerville Students gathered in “The Cage” at Cousens Gym at Tufts to participate in this year’s annual Scrapheap Showdown sponsored by The Somerville Mathematics Fund. This year’s problem involved building a marble maze to get from one corner of a banquet table to the opposite corner of a 2nd table two feet away.

Instead of just building a ramp from table corner to table corner, students had loop-the loops, spirals, cup elevators, triggers... all sorts of interesting Rube-Goldber-like obstacles.

As a member of the Somerville Mathematics Fund board, I was involved in the designing, testing and adjusting of the problem. We got to actually build our own solution, as we do each year, to know that it is possible and to figure out the scoring system. When the kids started working on the problem, their solutions were totally different, unique, creative and exciting.

Take a minute to look at the pictures of each of the teams hard at work on their projects and read all about the A-Mazing event in the Somerville Journal. Prior to the event, the Tufts online newsletter wrote about the upcoming event.

This year’s teams were:

Rubber Duckies

• Paulo Filipe Dourado

• Nelson Moreira

• Matthew Bedell

AMS Alliance

• Matthew Correia

• Sergio Resendes

• Adam Hughes

Freaks in Control

• Sabrina Ozit

• Lola Yu

The Coopers

• Michael Shamshak

• David Cooper

• Kayla Landry

You have to Spend Money to Make Money

• Nat Dempkowski

• Yongkang Yu

• Nathan Long

The Bird is the Word

• Danny Huang

• Nicholas Cruz

•Michael Conte


• Bipul Pyakuryal

• Aakash Sharma

• Avtar Singh

The Devastators

• Mohammad Sheikh

• Timur Addul Talil

• Anandpreet Singh

De Villens

• Deepika Bhargo

• Aaron Nevin

• Tara Costiner

P.M. Norm

• Norman Li

• Pristine Mei

• Michele Mei

The Stern Halloran Man

•Christopher Halloran

• Jacky Man

• Jesse Stern

Asian Avengers V2

• David Huang

• Raymond Li

• Joshua Ren