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.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Grant Opportunity for Teachers with Great Math Ideas

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, 2019.

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 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 eighteen years, the math fund has awarded  $113,844 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

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 https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2018/11/grant-opportunity-for-teachers-with.html
©2018, Erica Dakin Voolich

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Scrapheap Showdown: Catapult Fest — Fall Fling!

On October 28, 27 high school students on 9 teams gathered in “The Cage” in Cousens Gym at Tufts University to compete in the Somerville Mathematics Fund's 13th annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Instead of just the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there were also piles of foam core.  The students were given their challenge: to design and build a catapult on a base of  homasote  board. The teams worked intensely, designing, building, testing, reinforcing, and adjusting their catapults.
Getting ready to shoot.
Time was called after 3 hours.  Now was the time for the three competitions. The first challenge was to fling a marble contained in a balloon the farthest distance.
First teams to compete are ready to go with "i i on the pi pi"
starting and "Buoy" ready to go.
 Each team had three tries and their longest trial was counted.  The second challenge was “bowling” — throwing for accuracy as many marbles (in balloons) as possible in two minutes at empty water bottles lined up on a table.  This proved the most difficult challenge of the afternoon.

The third challenge was the craziest.  All the teams were at their own table in a circle around a kid’s swimming pool with a bucket in it.  Each team had 10 pingpong balls.  They all shot towards the pool at the same time.  Lots of pingpong balls bouncing all over!  There were points for landing in the pool, with a bonus for landing in the bucket.

Ping pong balls all over after the 3rd challenge.
Teams were ranked in each event, one thru nine, with 1 getting 1 point, etc.  So the winning team had the lowest final score.
1st place "i i on the pi pi"  [Eye on the Pi's/Prize]
The team with the lowest overall score, was “i i on the pi pi” [“eyes” on the pi’s”] (Brian Jian Chan, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Timothy Labounko).

2nd place "Crimson Quackateers"
The second place team was the “Crimson Quackateers” (Owen Chiu, Daniel Correa, Stephen Freitas).
3rd place "Euleroids"
The third place team was the “Euleroids” (Kevin  Arbaiza, Iskandar Nazhar, Myles Rivera).
4th place tie, "Buoys"
There was a tie for fourth place between “Buoys” (Samuel Newman, Tayara Romero, Henry Zou) and the
4th place tie, "Honeybees"
 “Honeybees” (Jackson Anderson, Tristan Brown-Vazquez, Max Nadeau).
"Sugar and Spice"
The other teams competing included the “Sugar and Spice” (Britney Flores, Tatiana Pineda, Nikhilesh)
"Silly Squids"
Silly Squids”  (Alina Kaur, Parveen Kaur, Arlenny Ramierez)

"Andromeda Phenomena"
"Andromeda Phenomena" (Rio Hunter Black, Emily Howley, Isra Khan)

"625" (Nathalya Castillo, Alexa English, Jadrianis Vega)

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.    The prizes donated were:  three $100 gift cards (donated by Anne Button), four 2019 Red Sox tickets (donated by Sam Voolich), three $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, 3 $75 AMC gift cards (donated by Chase Duclos-Orcello) and a combination of Science Museum passes (6 to the Omni Theater, 2 4-D Theater, 2 Butterfly Garden, 2 Planetarium and 4 Exhibit Halls ) donated by Maggie Rabidou.  All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown teeshirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff of Commercial Cleaning Service.

Nikhilesh Rattan -- The top fund raiser!  
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 winning fundraiser was Nikhilesh Rattan who took home a RedBones BBQ gift card.

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, and Michael Voolich.

Stanhope Framers donated the foam core; and Somerville Home Depot, the homasote.  Michael Morgan and Patricia Murphy-Sheehy, teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Michael Voolich designed the T-shirts with the icon use donated by Icons8.com and Yongkang Yu designed the poster advertising the event at the high school.

Sponsors of the event included Math Department at Somerville High School, Winter Hill Bank, RedBones BBQ, Commercial Cleaning Service, Century Bank, Jay Landers & Jasper Lawson, Anne Button, Zbigniew Nitecki and our most wonderful host, Tufts University (check out Alonso Nichols, Tufts photographer's, photos).

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 volunteers Clarissa Westney and Ben Perrin.

The link to this page is https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2018/10/scrapheap-showdown-catapult-fest-fall.html
©Erica Dakin Voolich 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

Time to Get Your Team Together! Scrapheap Showdown is Coming!

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 29th.
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 12.

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!

The link to his page is http://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2018/10/time-to-get-your-team-together.html

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Outstanding Students win Somerville Math Fund Scholarships

Erica Voolich congratulates (back) Samuel Saron, Desmond Feldman, Benjamin Novik, Nicolas Ragusa, (front) Saja El-Saudi, Lizbeth Figueroa, Mekhribon Otajonova, Mei Mei Collins on winning Somerville Math Fund renewable scholarships for outstanding work in math & science.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is pleased to announce the winners of their renewable mathematics scholarships for 2018.  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 $32,000 over four years.

Mei Mei Collins will attend Harvard College; Saja EL-Saudi and Mekhribon Otajonova, U Mass Boston; Desmond Feldman, Ithaca College; Lizbeth Figueroa, Boston College; Benjamin Novick, U Mass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College; Nicolas Ragusa and Samuel Saron, Tufts University.

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.

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

Erica Voolich congratulates Mei Mei Collins
on winning the Dr. Alice T Schafer Scholarship
 from the Somerville Math Fund for outstanding work in math & science.

Mei Mei Collins won the Alice T Schafer Scholarship.  Mei Mei is planning to study environmental engineering.  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 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, Mei Mei’s interest in studying environmental engineering is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Alice 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 in 2000, it has awarded $324,000 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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pizza, then Pi, and finally Pies —A Great way to Celebrate a Transcendental Number

Making Pi Night Buttons

Wednesday, March 14 is Pi Day (3.14)  What better excuse is there to have a celebration of math with middle schoolers than π?     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.  Luckily the Math Fund celebrated early, since many schools had a Snow Day on Pi Day, thanks to the third Nor’easter this March.
Pitching pennies to figure which is a more challenging target,
a  circle in a square or a square in a circle

After enjoying pizza donated by the Bickoff family of the Commercial Cleaning Service (discounted by White Sport), the students from the East Somerville School, who were joined by students from Argenziano and Healey Schools, went around to a wide variety of math activities set up in the gym.
Drawing a circle using a right angle

These activities included: bicycle wheel roll, guessing contest, tooth pick drop (Buffon’s 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, graphing circumference vs diameter, and predicting circumferences in mm by feel of objects in mystery boxes.
Drawing a cardioid using straight lines

The event was planned by Scott Weaver (ESCS), Wil Jacques (Healey) and Erica Voolich (Somerville Mathematics Fund) with help from Jen Rodriguez (Argenziano) and Jonathan Killian (Argenziano).  Teachers at the Somerville High School recruited volunteers to help run the events they may have experienced themselves years before.
Estimating how far a bike wheel will roll after 2 revolutions.

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 fifteen years. 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.  Fifteen years later, Table Talk Pies is not only still donating to the Somerville Pi night celebration, but to many more celebrations.   This year Table Talk donated more than 60,000 pies to schools and organizations celebrating pi day.
Drawing a circle using tangents.

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!
Drawing a perfect circle free-hand the size of a CD

The Somerville Mathematics Fund, was founded in 2000 with the mission to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville, MA.  They also award renewable college mathematics scholarships; applications will be due in early April.  For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer, visit www.somervillemathematicsfund.org or mathfund@gmail.com or call 617-666-0666.
Graphing Diameter vs Circumference = 1/π slope
Taking a Pi Facts quiz

©Erica Dakin Voolich

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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 Landers and Jasper Lawson and the Bickoff family from Commercial Cleaning Service each sponsored multiple grants. Lali and Jay Haines, William Kuhlman, and Winter Hill Bank 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.

• Laura Bauer, Argenziano School (4th SEI-Integrated), Math Manipulatives plus Carpet
• Meghan Berube, Brown School (1st), Wooden Unit Blocks
• Jayne Campos, Argenziano School (1st), Think Tank
• Amanda M Chamberlin, Argenziano School (2nd, SEI-Integrated), Rug
• Susanne Douglas, Healey School (1st), Math Center Materials
• Donna Driscoll, Argenziano School & East Somerville Community School (Math Coach), Math Manipulatives
• Michael Fitzpatrick, St Catherine’s School (1st), Math Learning Centers
• Diana Garity, Argenziano School (2nd Newcomer Sheltered English Immersion), Renenrek Materials
• Caroline Grascia-DiPaolo, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (Autism Specialist), Math Manipultives
• Tzu-Ting (Ting-Ting) Han, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (1st Integrated SEIP), Math Center Materials
• Jennifer Kelly, Argenziano School (4th-SEI), Math Manipulatives
• Jennifer Kuszmar & Meredith Rothstein, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (K-1st & 2nd-3rd, Autism Teachers), Math Manipulatives
• Maddie Mayerson, Healey School (1st), Math Learning Center and Think Tank
• Anthony Pane, Healey School (5th math & ELA), Math Manipulatives and Think Tank
• Lauren Reilly, Healey School (1st), Math Learning Center and Games
• Halley H Snelling, Argenziano School (2nd Integrated), Rug
• Samantha Song, Kennedy School (1st), Storage, Math Storybooks, and Manipulatives

The Math Fund wants to thank  Jay Landers and Jasper Lawson for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Katie Starbuck, Healey School (K-5 Math Coach), Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
• Barbara Strell, Healey School (Resource Room Teacher), Take-Home Math Games
• Meaghan Tubridy, Argenziano School (1st-3rd Special Education), Math Manipulatives
• Emily Voigt, Brown School (1st), Math Games

The Math Fund wants to thank the Bickoff Family of the Commercial Cleaning Service for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Laura Bonnell, East Somerville Community School (3rd Grade Team), Family Math Game Afternoon
• Caroline Martha Burkard, East Somerville Community School (4th), Math Manipulatives

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

William Kuhlman:
• Angela Rodriguez, Argenziano School (3rd SEI-Integrated), Math Manipulatives and Games

Lali and Jay Haines:
• Aileene Martinez, East Somerville Community School (1st Grade Team), Family Math Afternoon Materials and Math Games

The Winter Hill Bank:
• Francis Carino, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (4th Math & Science), Math Manipulatives

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over eighteen years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded $113,844 in teacher grants supporting two hundred ninety-one 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.  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).

The link to this post is http://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2018/01/have-great-idea-on-how-to-teach-math.html

Erica Dakin Voolich@2018