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.
Erica

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Have a Great Idea on How to Teach Math? These Teachers Do!

by Erica Voolich

     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.  

    This year has been an unusual year.  The Somerville Public School buildings have been closed since last March.  Teachers who won Somerville Math Fund grants last year were just receiving or ordering their materials when everything changed because of the pandemic.  We allowed the teachers to adjust their orders from classroom materials to materials for home remote learning.  We still don’t have an actual date for the Somerville students and teachers to be physically back in their classrooms.  It was hard year for teachers to plan, as a result we had a large drop off of applications.  

    This year we have five teacher winners, four have hopes of returning to the actual classroom sometime in the near future.  Each teacher’s grant has a generous sponsor who is making their teacher’s work easier.  Our congratulations to each of the winners and our thanks to each of the sponsors for their generous support:

• Kelly Dickson, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (6th - 8th, Autism Teacher), Math Games & Manipulatives, sponsored by Winter Hill Bank

• Meredith Rothstein, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (5th - 8th, Autism Teacher), Manipulatives to develop Basic Skills sponsored by Lali and Jay Haines.

• Roxane Scrima, John F Kennedy School, (K), Math Manipulatives for home packets for each family, sponsored by East Cambridge Savings Bank.

• Amanda Singleton, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (4th-5th, Autism Teacher), Individualized learning math manipulatives, sponsored by Tufts University.

• Meaghan Tubridy, Albert Argenziano School, (3rd - 4th, Special Education), Individualized packets math materials for home and school sponsored by William Kuhlman.

    The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over twenty-one years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded $133,418 in teacher grants supporting three hundred forty teachers’ projects in the city of Somerville along with emergency grants to East Somerville teachers after the devastating school fire.

    In early April, the fund will be seeking applications from students who reside in Somerville for college mathematics scholarships.  Over twenty-one years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded a total of $445,000 in four-year mathematics scholarships to ninety-nine students.  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).

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Scrapheap Move Over, here comes Game Jam!

 by Erica Dakin Voolich

Previous years in October I’d be telling you about teams each of three students arriving at the gym at Tufts University for an engineering challenge on a Sunday afternoon.  Well, guess what happened with Scrapheap in the pandemic?  No such event was possible.  But, the Somerville Math Fund’s Board would not be deterred, they decided they would hold a Game Jam instead in December, with students each working in teams of three each from their own home.

Seven teams signed up for the Somerville Math Fund Game Jam.  They got “their marching orders” in a zoom meeting on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday afternoon picked up their supplies in a pizza box at the high school.  

Students had from Tuesday night at 6:30 PM until Sunday at 6:30 PM to work on and upload their games.  They needed to design a board or card game that could be played by 3 or more players, assuming each the players could possibly at different locations.  The theme of the game was Space — any interpretation of that theme was OK.  All the teams of three were creating at home, not together in person — not like the pre-COVID days of Scrapheap Showdown, with a large pile of junk, our scrapheap in the middle of a Tufts U gym floor.  Each player was given a pizza box full of papers with different board designs, rules, many different sided dice, playing cards and some random unrelated items that they needed to figure out how to use at least one of them in the game.  These were used in interesting ways.  In one game the stress ball became the sun on the game board of the planets, in another there was an animal building challenge with another random object as the board game progressed. 

The Board was impressed by the creativity of the games the students came up with.  Lots of detail and thought went in to the rules and design.  Creative choice of how to use the required theme of “space.” Some planetary or astroid travel or building for survival or defense, some different non-Euclidean geometric spaces, even some aliens to escape.  Some games were for younger students some assumed high school math.

After the games were submitted and uploaded to the Somerville Math Fund Classroom, the Board members needed to play the games and the teams of contestants were each given two games to play and evaluate with the same rubric the Board was using.  The rubric was on a scale of 16 (up to 4 points in each of 4 categories) and each game was judged by students as well as Board members and the final score was the average of the students’ scores with the average of the Board members’ scores.

The first place team was “No Name Given” (Marie Lessard-Brandt, Isra Khan, Rio Hunter Black) with their game “Belt Hop,” 13.2 points.  The second place team was “Senioritis” (Justin Millette, Henry Ayanna, Owen Chiu) with their game “Cosmic Civilization,” 13 points.

The third place team was “Buddies” ( Brayden Goldstein-Gelb, AJ Feldman, Kevin Wen), with their game “Hold Your Horses,” 12.3 points.  The fourth place team was “We Don’t Know” (Nikhilesh Rattan, Samuel Diener, Chakshu Patel), with their game of  “The Final Space Race,” 11.8 points.

The teams chose their prizes in the order they finished.  The prizes donated were three passes donated by the New England Aquarium good through 2021, three $100 Target gift card, three $25 Apple gift cards and three $25  Amazon gift cards.

Designers and refiners of the challenge were members of the Somerville Math Fund Board: Sanford Bogage, Chase Duclos-Orsello, Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Kelly O’Connell, Erica Voolich, Susan Weiss with design suggestions and distribution help from Patricia Murphy-Sheehy at Somerville High, Head of Math Department.  The math teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  

Thanks to our sponsors, this activity was both a fund raiser for scholarships, provided prizes for the students and allowed the students to participate without paying any registration fee.  Our wonderful sponsors were Commercial Cleaning Co/Bickoff Family, Jasper J. Lawson, PhD. and Associates, Midé Technology Corporation, Tufts University, Winter Hill Bank, and two anonymous donors.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville.  On January 7th, we will be looking for teacher grant applications; and in April, we 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.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Time to Apply for Math Teaching Grants

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 7, 2021.

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 Math Fund blog or by requesting a copy of this year’s annual newsletter which will 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 twenty years, the math fund has awarded  $131,215 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 teacher grant application is available on
http://www.somervillemathematicsfund.org/teachergrant.html.

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

Friday, November 13, 2020

Scrapheap Showdown Morphs into a Game Jam for Somerville Kids

 The Somerville Mathematics Fund

Scrapheap Showdown has gone virtual!


We are hosting a game jam!

We've created a new, virtual challenge for our

annual Scrapheap Showdown event.


Compete in teams of three on a different kind of

challenge, one where you design a game that will

be played and judge in part by the other teams.


Open to residents of Somerville who have not graduated from high school


VIRTUAL EVENT DATE:  Make your game between December 8-13th, 2020

Winner announce by December 20

Register individually or as a team by December 2nd

scan 

or go to https://forms.gle/Y2agwREQ56Cb1MgV6



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Outstanding Students win Somerville Math Fund Scholarships

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is pleased to announce the winners of their renewable mathematics scholarships for 2020.  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. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and a few organizations, this year we were able to award a record 8 scholarships, totaling $48,000 over four years.
The winners were in the top row: Christiana Brand, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Timothy Labounko.
Bottom Row: Ziye OuYang, Owen Sheehy, Harmeet Singh and Jaskaran Singh

Due to COVID-19, we were unable to award the scholarships at an awards night.  The school notified the students they had won without telling them which scholarship, so they didn’t know the President of the Somerville Math Fund would be calling each of them to tell them of their award and that a letter was in the mail.

The winners are attening a variety of schools next  fall.  Christina Brand, Ziye OuYang, and Owen Sheehy will attend UMass Amherst; Luca Duclos-Orsell, Brown; Harmanpreet Kaur, MIT; Timothy Labounko, University of Southern California; Harmeet Singh, UMass Boston; and Jaskaran Singh, UMass Lowell.

Their annual scholarships of $1500 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.

There were three memorial scholarships this year:  Dr. Alice T  Schafer Scholarship, Lt. Catherine M. Landers, and Michael Voolich.

One of the scholarships was given in the memory of an outstanding woman mathematician, Dr. Alice T Schafer.  Harmanpreet Kaur was awarded the Alice T Schafer Memorial Scholarship. Harmanpreet is planning on majoring computer engineering at MIT, the school where Dr Schafer’s husband taught mathematics for many years when she was teaching mathematiacs at Wellesley College.
Dr Alice Schafer Scholarship winner Harmanpreet Kaur

Dr. Schafer (1915 - 2009) 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 role 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, Harmanpreet’s majoring in computer science is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Alice Schafer's memory.

The Lt. Catherine M. Landers Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jaskaran Singh. Jaskaran has in interest in statistics and is planning on majoring in business.  When Lt. Landers (1920 - 2012) wanted to go to nursing school (graduating in 1942), her grandmother opened a cedar chest were she had been saving dollar bills to help pay for her granddaughter’s education.  Lt Landers won a Bronze Star for her service during WW2, where she ran a field hospital outside Paris; she was about to be shipped to the far East when WW2 ended and so she boarded a transport ship for the USA instead.   Jay Landers and Jasper Lawson donated a scholarship in her memory, honoring her commitment to education. Jaskaran's interest business is a wonderful way to honor Lt. Landers' commitment to education.
Lt Catherine Landers Scholarship winner Jaskaran  Singh

Our newest named scholarship is in the memory of Michael Voolich.  This year it was awarded to Timothy Labounko who is planning on majoring in civil engineering at University of Southern California.  Michael Voolich (1943 - 2019) was a person who was interested in how everything worked, if Renaissance man was a job offering, Michael would have applied. He learned by asking questions and then he loved telling everyone what he had learned and how seemingly disparate things were related.  He had a career than included teaching many different subjects in local schools, none of which was math. But, he married a math teacher.  So, when the Somerville Math Fund was being discussed and organized in his living room, of course he joined the founding board.
Michael Voolich Scholarship winner Tim Labounko

He liked to do things for people and of course for the math fund.  His telephone calls and trips to Table Talk Pie Company each year for city-wide Pi Night celebration were a highlight each year. He especially loved helping find things for others to donate for the Scrapheap Showdown each year and his marvelous multiple clamps will still be a necessary part of future Scrapheap challenges to come.

Michael loved to be able to give and help others in the local community along with his extended family here and abroad. This scholarship was funded by the many people who donated in his memory to the Somerville Math Fund.  Timothy’s fascination with transportation engineering and planning would clearly lead to many interesting discussions if Michael were still alive — another student who wants to know how it works!


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 in 2000, it has awarded $445,000 in four-year mathematics scholarships to ninety-nine 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 post: https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2020/06/outstanding-students-win-somerville.html

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Have a Great Idea on How to Teach Math? These Teachers Do!

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.  Jay and Jasper and the Apple Tree Fund each sponsored multiple grants. Lali and Jay Haines, William Kuhlman, Tufts University, 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.
• Reid Cargan, East Somerville Community School (3rd SEI), Math Dictionaries,
• Katherine Ceron, Healey School (1st, SEI), Math Manipulatives
• Johanna Cooney, Brown School (1st), MakerSpace Bins
• Stephanie Rizzo, Argenziano School (4th), Math Manipulatives
• Angela Rodriguez, Argenziano School (3rd SEI), Math Materials
• Meredith Rothstein, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (4th - 6th, Autism Teacher), Manipulatives to develop Basic Skills
• Kelsey Schroder, Healey School (2nd), Math Storybooks and Materials
• Helen Schroeder, East Somerville Community School (K, SEI), Wooden Blocks & Math Materials
• Katie Starbuck, Healey School & East Somerville Community School (Math Coach), Math Materials for Professional Development and Classrooms
• Lauren Woldemariam, Healey School (1st), Math Manipulatives

The Math Fund wants to thank  Jay and Jasper for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Kelly Dickson, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (6th - 8th Autism Special Education),   ChooseItMaker & TouchMath
• Susanne Douglas, Healey School (1st), Math Manipulatives
• Diana Garity, Argenziano School (2nd SEI Newcomers), iknowit.com and Montessori Materials
• Talia Greenberg, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (5th & 6th SEI Math teacher), Volume and Fractions Manipulatives
 • April Luna, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (6th, Math & Science), Calculators & Base 10 Materials
• Andrea Palmer, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (K-8, Math Coach), Math Materials

The Math Fund wants to thank the Apple Tree Fund for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Sally Brith, Next Wave/Full Circle Math Team (teacher, counselor), Project Based Learning
• Lori Brown, Healey School (1st & 2nd, Special Ed), Math Materials
• Matthew Burch, Argenziano School, (Math Instructional Coach), Math Manipulatives and Games (k-4)

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

Lali and Jay Haines:
• Lauren McGlashing & Julie Jones, Capuano Early Childhood Center (K), Movement and Math in the classroom and at family event

William Kuhlman:
• Aileene Martinez, East Somerville Community School  (for the 1st grade team), Math Morning/Afternoon Event

Tufts University:
• Emma Mrozicki, East Somerville Community School (4th Unidos), Math Manipulatives

The Winter Hill Bank:
• Caroline Martha Burkard, East Somerville Community School (6th Math teacher), Microphone & Math Games

Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli:
• Jason Behrens (District Innovation Specialist) and Karen Leary (Geometry Teacher & Calculus Project School Year Coordinator) & Students (Nathalya Castillo Salmeron, Edrick Pacheo, Diana Posada) Calculus Student Run Math Fun Night for 3rd - 5th Students

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over twenty years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded $131,215 in teacher grants supporting three hundred thirty-five teachers’ projects in the city of Somerville along with emergency grants to East Somerville teachers after the devastating school fire.

In early April, the fund will be seeking applications from students who reside in Somerville for college mathematics scholarships.  Over twenty years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded a total of $397,000 in four-year mathematics scholarships to ninety-one students.  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).

Monday, October 28, 2019

Scrapheap Showdown 2019: Ship to Shore!


On October 27, 18 high school students on six teams gathered in “The Cage” in Cousens Gym at Tufts University to compete in the Somerville Mathematics Fund’s 15th annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Along with the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there were also piles of foam core and paper.  The students were given their challenge: to design and build a crane on a base of MDF board. The teams worked intensely, designing, building, testing, reinforcing, and adjusting their cranes.

Time was called after 3 3/4 hours.  Now was the time for the two competitions. The first challenge was a precision test to retrieve objects from the “ship” on the floor and place these to various places on the tables (different locations were worth different points).

They had 3 minutes for this first challenge.  The second challenge was unloading bulk cargo: a strength and speed test.  They had to upload various objects (weights, marbles, coins) and the total was weighed after 2 minutes.

They had to be careful to not overload their bucket and break the crane arm.  The team that was able to raise the most, Euleroids, lifted a total of 16 pounds, 2 ounces.

Teams were ranked in each event, one thru six, with 1 getting 1 point, etc.  So the winning team had the lowest final score.

The team with the lowest overall score, was “Euleroids” (Charlie Nadeau, Iskandar Nazhar, Myles Rivera).

The second place team was the “Crimson Quackateers” (Nora Chiu, Owen Chiu, Caden Yarberry).

The third place team was "√-1 2^3  ∑ π " (i eight sum pi) (Laura Clervil, Harmanpreet Kaur, Nasreen Kaur).

The fourth place team was "i i on the π π" (i’s on the pi’s) (Brian Jian Chan, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Timothy Labounko).

The other teams were "Generic Name" (Omar Benkhayat, Alexa English, Jadrianis Vega)

and "Don't Be Trash" (Rio Hunter Black, Isra Khan, Marie Lessard-Brandt).

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.    The prizes donated were:  three $100 Target gift cards (donated by Anne Button), three $100 amazon gift cards (donated by Jay & Jasper) four 2019 Red Sox tickets (donated by Sam Voolich), four $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, one $50 gift card for FlatBread and Sacco Bowl and $60 cash.  All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown teeshirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff of Commercial Cleaning Service.

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.

Designers & refiners of the challenge were: Sanford Bogage, Anne Button, Chase Duclos-Orsello,  Zachary Faubion, Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Zbigniew Nitecki, Erica Voolich.

Stanhope Framers donated the foam core; Magnificent Muffin & Bagel donated egg crates and Patricia Murphy-Sheehy, with the math teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Amy Weiss designed the T-shirts and edited the poster advertising the event at the high school.

Sponsors of the event included Winter Hill Bank, RedBones BBQ, Commercial Cleaning Service, Jack Connolly of Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly, Mide Corporation, Rudy’s Restaurant, Jay & Jasper, Anne Button, anonymous, and our most wonderful host, Tufts University.

Suffolk University Catering provided the refreshments for the teams and volunteers.  Various members of the Board worked on all aspects of organizing the event and worked to make it a success along with community volunteer Scott Carlson.

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.

If these pictures aren't enough, here are some general pictures to enjoy.

©Somerville Math Fund 2019
The link to this post is https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2019/10/scrapheap-showdown-2019-ship-to-shore.html