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 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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

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 27th.
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 http://www.somervillemathematicsfund.org/pdf/Scrapheap_application17.pdf 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 https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2019/09/time-to-get-your-team-together.html

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Outstanding Students win Somerville Math Fund Scholarships

Monica Fernandes, Julie Schneider and Jay Landers congratulate this year's winners
at the Somerville High School Awards Night.  Left to Right: Monica Fernandes,
Charlotte Kafka-Gibbons, Ben Botner, Henry Zou, Max Nadeau, Robert McCarthy,
Bishan Rai, Simran Jeet, Isabel Silva, Julie Schneider, Jay Landers.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is pleased to announce the winners of their renewable mathematics scholarships for 2019.  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 9 scholarships, totaling $36,000 over four years.
Monica Fernandes congratulates
Smaranda Costiner.

Ben Botner and Henry Zou will attend Tufts University; Smaranda Costiner, Boston College; Simran Jeet, UMass Amherst; Charlotte Kafka-Gibbons, University of Toronto; Max Nadeau, Harvard College; Bishan Rai, Syracuse University; Isabel Silva, Northeastern University; and Robert McCarthy’s choice remains a deep dark mystery.

Their annual 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.

There were three scholarships named for outstanding women this year:  Dr. Alice T  Schafer Scholarship, Lt. Catherine M. Landers, and the Falstein-Schneider You can Count on Yourself Scholarship.
Monica Fernandes congratulates Charlotte Kafka-Gbbons
on winning the Dr. Alice T Schedule Scholarship for
outstanding work in math and science.
One of the scholarships was given in the memory of an outstanding woman mathematician, Dr. Alice T Schafer.  Monica Fernandes award the Dr.Alice T Schafer Scholarship to Charlotte Kafka-Gibbons. Charlotte is planing on majoring in neuroscience.  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, Charlotte’s interest in studying the brain with a major in neuroscience is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Alice Schafer's memory.
Jay Landers awarded Max Nadeau the Lt Catherrine M Landers
Scholarship for outstanding working in math and science.
Jay Landers awarded  Max Nadeau the Lt. Catherine M. Landers Scholarship.  Max is planning on majoring in computer and data science to apply artificial intelligence to solving environmental problems. 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. Max's interest in solving environmental problems is a wonderful way to honor Lt. Landers' commitment to education.
Julie Schneider congratulates Isabel Silva for
winning the Falstein-Schneider You can Count on Yourself
scholarship for outstanding work in math and science.
Julie Schneider awarded Isabel Silva the Falstein-Schneider You can  Count on Yourself Scholarship, which Falstein and her partner Julie Schneider created to recognize outstanding local math students.  As Falstein wrote, “We are delighted to offer this scholarship to honor our families and the philosophy we believe promotes success in understanding, appreciating, and using mathematics.”  Falstein also wrote, “We value Somerville, and believe in the potential of our young people to make the world a better and more peaceful place for everyone.  We hope this small contribution is helpful to this talented Somerville resident.

You Can Count On Yourself is the sub-title of a Falstein-authored text that serves as the curriculum for a math program she created at UMass Boston. The phrase describes the theory behind the program empowering adults to develop a foundation in understanding basic mathematics.  People who understand math notation and expect it to make sense, are more likely to enjoy and achieve success using the language of quantification.  Isabel Silva is planning on becoming a math teacher — what better way to honor Falstein who developed this curriculum to help her math students at UMass Boston.

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 $356,000 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.

The link to this page is https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2019/08/outstanding-students-win-somerville.html
©Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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

Thursday, March 14 is Pi Day (3.14).  What better excuse is there to have a celebration of math with middle schoolers than π?     On Pi Day, well over 250 students, parents, teachers, and volunteers from the high school, PTA and community celebrated π  at the Healey School by eating pizza for dinner then spending an evening estimating, creating, collecting data, answering questions, and ending with pies for everyone.
Drawing a nephroid with straight lines

After enjoying pizza donated by the Bickoff family of the Commercial Cleaning Service (discounted by White Sport), the students from the students from the Healey School, who were joined by students from East Somerville, Argenziano, Winter Hill and Kennedy Schools, went around to a wide variety of math activities set up in the gym.
Pitching pennies to determine which is a better challenge,
a square in a circle or a circle in a square

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 circle using a right angle

The event was planned by Wil Jacques (Healey), Scott Weaver (ESCS), Jen Rodriguez (Argenziano) and Erica Voolich (Somerville Mathematics Fund).  Teachers at the Somerville High School recruited volunteers to help run the events they may have experienced themselves years before.  Some members of the Delta Tau Delta (Tufts) chapter joined community volunteers.
Graphing circumference vs radius of various round objects.

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.
Estimating the circumference of various round objects in and around the room.

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.
One of the winners of one of the many Pi math activities
Sixteen 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 about 70,000 pies to schools and organizations celebrating pi day.
Making Pi Buttons.

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!
Pitching toothpicks to calculate Pi

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.
Rolling the bike wheel to see who estimated correctly
how far it would travel in  one and one half revolutions.

The link to this site is https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2019/03/pizza-then-pi-and-finally-pies-great.html
©Erica Dakin Voolich 2019

Thursday, January 31, 2019

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 & Jasper Lawson and the Apple Tree Fund each sponsored multiple grants. Lali & Jay Haines, 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.
• Leah Jaenicke, Albert F. Argenziano School (2nd Integrated SEI), Montessori Math Materials
• Lauren Reilly, Arthur D. Healey School (2nd), Math Games for School and Home
• Angela Rodriguez, Albert F. Argenziano School (3rd Integrated SEI), Math Kits Materials & Games
• Kelsey Schroder, Arthur D. Healey School (2nd), Math Center Materials & Games
• Halley H. Snelling, Albert F. Argenziano School (Integrated 2nd), Rekenrek Materials
• Barbara Strell, Arthur D. Healey School (Resource Room, K - 2nd), Manipulatives for Number Sense and Operations
• Meaghan Tubridy, Albert F. Argenziano School (Special Education Teacher, 2nd - 3rd), Mathematics Manipulatives

The Math Fund wants to thank the Apple Tree Fund for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Sandra Dumas, Benjamin Brown School, (5th), Math Games
• Diana Garity, Albert F. Argenziano School (2nd SEI Newcomers), Kathy Richardson books and Materials
• Rene Holtzman, Albert F. Argenziano School  (1st, SEI), Magnatiles

The Math Fund wants to thank  Jay Landers and Jasper Lawson for generously underwriting the following teacher grants:
• Yasmina Belatreche, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (Middle School SEI), IXL
• Jennifer Kuszmar, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (2nd, 3rd Autism Classroom), Math Manipulatives
• Margaret M. O’Connell, Somerville High School (Math), Intro to Hardware Engineering Materials (math class)
• Andrea Palmer, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (K-8 Math Coach), Online Harvard’s MQI Course + Math Materials
• Meredith Rothstein, Winter Hill Community Innovation School (4th - 6th Autism Classroom), Math Adapted Materials & Math Manipulatives
• Katie Starbuck, Arthur D. Healey School (Math Coach), Online Harvard’s MQI Course

The Math Fund wants to thank each of the following for generously underwriting a teacher grant:
• Sandra Dumas, Benjamin Brown School, (5th), Math Games
• Diana Garity, Albert F. Argenziano School (2nd SEI Newcomers), Kathy Richardson books and Math Materials
• Rene Holtzman, Albert F. Argenziano School  (1st, SEI), Magnatiles

Lali and Jay Haines:
• Michele Moreno, Albert F. Argenziano School (3rd Integrated ELL), Math Center Materials & Games

Tufts University:
• Caroline Martha Burkard, East Somerville Community School (6th Math), Math Center Materials

The Winter Hill Bank:
• Susanne Douglas, Arthur D. Healey School (2nd), Math Center Materials & Games

Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli:
• Emily Elahi, Albert F. Argenziano School  (1st, SEI), Math Center Materials & Games

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Over nineteen years, the Somerville Math Fund has awarded $121,865 in teacher grants supporting three hundred eleven 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 page is: https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2019/01/have-great-idea-on-how-to-teach-math.html
© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2019