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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

8th Annual Scrapheap Showdown-- Out on a Limb! Can you Cantilever?

On October 28, 8 teams of 3 high school students each from Somerville gathered in “The Cage” at Cousens Gym at Tufts University to compete in the eighth annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Instead of the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there were many pieces of paper, some foam core, lots of string and tape.  The students were given their challenge: to design and build a cantilever out of paper, tape and string.  They could use foam-core and clamps to build and attach the base to their table    The teams worked intensely, building, testing. 

Time was called after three hours.  Now was the time for the competition.  Each team was judged by how well their cantilever could support weights at the end of the arm with minimal displacement.  There was a hook at the end of the cantilever where a bucket with weights was hung for the trials to determine the relative stiffness and strength.  They each had six trials, keeping the best score using this equation:

Beam stiffness  = W L3   

W = weight, L = length, D = displacement

The students' cantilevers competed against each other.  The team with the highest overall score, was “Ace" (Flor Duarte, Emily Mei, Anthony Melchor-Montiel).  

Second place was the “Freshmen” (Jefferson De La Cruz, Cesar Benavides, Ben Stevens)

Third place, “G.I.R. (Geninuses in Rebellion” (Nicholas Menezes, Christina Joo, Harrison Grams)

“W = R.P.S. (“Omega” = RPS)” (Prajwal Acharya. Ngawang Tsering, Ruthie Grossman) came in Fourth.    

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.  The other teams that participated in the event were the LuCKY GeNiUSEs, and the Team Pandora, and the Misfits, and the Bubots.  

The prizes donated were: $100 gift cards (donated by Jay Landers & Jasper Lawson & Saraf Nawar, four Red Sox tickets (Sam Voolich), three $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, six passes to the Aquarium & Museum of Fine Arts and 4 passes to the Children’s Museum donated (PriceWaterHouse).  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.  

Fundraiser Theodora Babilye won a Newbury Comics gift card donated by the Voolich family.  All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown tee-shirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff.  

Designers & refiners of the challenge were: Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Saraf Nawar, Zbigniew Nitecki, Erica Voolich, Michael Voolich, Susan Weiss.  DSG Communications donated the paper, Kanayo Lala gave engineering advice.  Cathy Cannan and Michael Morgan, teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Michael Voolich designed the T-shirts.  Sponsors of the event included Winter Hill Bank, the Bickoff family, Jay & Jasper, RedBones BBQ and our wonderful host, Tufts University.  Various members of the Board worked on all aspects of organizing the event and worked to make it a success. 

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is an affiliate of Dollars for Scholars.  They were 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.