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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Time for Teachers to Apply for Somerville Math Fund 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, 2022.

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 some previous 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 late November.

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  $133,418 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)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Game Jam Winners and Supporters!

 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 twice with Scrapheap during the pandemic?  No such event was possible again in 2021. Tufts reopened for their students in this fall, but not for outside groups of kids under the age of 18.

Last year 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.  No Scrapheap again this year?  No problem!  Time for Game Jam #2.

This time teams could get together in their own homes, if they wanted, or work apart. This time it was held in October and November.

Five teams signed up for the Somerville Math Fund Game Jam #2.  They got “their marching orders” in a zoom meeting on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday afternoon picked they each up their supplies in a pizza box at the high school from Mr. Morgan.  Students had from Tuesday night at 6:30 PM until Friday the next week at midnight 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 be at different locations or at the same place.  The theme of the game was Time — any interpretation of that theme or spelling was OK.  They needed to explain in their notes the connection to math in their games.

All the teams were creating at home, not together in person in the Tufts U gym — 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, our contest 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 while racing against a timer the number of cards you choose determines the number of dice rolled in your turn.  In another game, you and Amelia Earhart are trying to escape from the  Bermuda Triangle.  In game based on a roll of a die, you might be traveling by car, plane or boat using a glider or elastic man. And in another you will be auctioning off pieces of land  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 “time.” 

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 the other 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 “Marci” (Marcus Odilon, Sam Turin) with their game “Go for Another,” 12.1666… points.  Second place was “Shameless Dust Particle” (Atticus Borggaard), with his game “Thyme Garden,” 12.05 points.  Third place was “Don’t be Trashy” (Rio Hunter Black, Marie Isra Khan, Marie Lessard-Brandt)  with their game “Escaping Hartbreak,” 11.4333… points. Forth place was “Bored Gamers” (Samuel Diener, Nikhilesh Rattan, Caden Yarberry) with their game “Jet Lag,” 11.0333… points.  The difference between first and 4th place was 1.1333… points — this was a really close event!  Good job all around.

The teams chose their prizes in the order they finished.  The prizes donated were three sets of 2 tickets to the RedSox from Sam Voolich for a game in April 2022, two $50 Target gift cards from Jay and Jasper, and four RedBones $50 gift cards from RedBones BBQ.

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, Erica Voolich, Susan Weiss with design suggestions and distribution help from Michael Morgan and Patricia Murphy-Sheehy (Head of Math Department) at Somerville High.  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.  This year we offered different levels of sponsorship for the event.  Thanks to all of our wonderful donors whose donations will make at least one scholarship available next spring and two teacher grants in January.

Gold Level (one year of college scholarship each):  Commercial Cleaning Co./Bickoff Family, East Cambridge Savings Bank, Julie Schneider, Tufts University and Winter Hill Ban.

Silver Level (one teacher grant each):  Jasper J. Lawson, PhD. and Associates and Mr. & Mrs. Donald F. McGoldrick

Bronze Level (supporting Somerville Math Fund work):  Midé Technology Corporation, RedBones BBQ, J.J. Sullivan Plumbing & Heating Co. Inc. and one anonymous donor.

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.

The link to this page is: https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2021/11/game-jam-winners-and-supporters.html