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, April 19, 2012

Math Circles

Last weekend I was in DC for the Circle on the Road conference on Math Circles.  I loved the activities that I saw and participated in -- they challenged students to think about, struggle with, and solve interesting math problems in a group setting.  The ones I saw were a great way to help students become mathematical thinkers and problem solvers.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak about the activities that The Somerville Mathematics Fund uses in our Scrapheap Showdown.  It was nice to hear that others were interested in what we are able to do in our annual engineering challenge for Somerville high school students.  If you haven't read about our adventures, scroll down in this blog to past posts or go to our post about Jamming in the Junkyard.  I always love to share what we do and offer to work with and share ideas with others who want to try this in their own communities.  It was nice to have suggestions from others on where we might get inspiration for designing our problems.

I was invited to speak on Friday, but stayed for the whole conference.  I benefitted from others sharing their ideas from their own work with math circles, some with various ages of children and some with teachers.  Following my talk was a math challenge using the Euclidean Algorithm for GCD that we all participated in.  Then a panel of students who have had experience leading Math Circles.

Saturday they held a math fair at the Ridley Center at the Smithsonian.  There were games and puzzles lining the hallway.  In the classrooms were hour-long age-identified activities/lessons from math circles.  I went to one which took the classic Knights & Liers logic puzzles and brought them down to a level that elementary children were solving them.   I assisted with a Blue Eyed Island logic problems session -- another nice way to act out logic problems for elementary children.

Sunday was more discussions and panels sharing opportunities for children and teachers, math summer opportunities and information on evaluation of math circles.  It ended with Dr Gordon Hamilton sharing his wonderful challenging activities for children of all ages based on some of the unsolved mathematical problems.  He has a website, the Math Pickle where he shares his materials.

There are some exciting things happening in Math Circles around the country and if you'd like to find one, check out the website list.  The talks from the conference are going to be posted on the conference website.  Check back there later to see for yourself.

I am pleased that there is a math circle at Tufts for Somerville students.  I understand there is another one in Somerville, possibly at the Argenziano School, but I have not been able to confirm this or find out how to contact the person who is running it.

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