News & Updates
Read on for the latest news from the National Math Festival. You can also get updates directly to your inbox by signing up for our enewsletter! Follow us on social media @natmathfestival on Twitter or Instagram, or like the Festival's Facebook page.
Featured Posts

12/04/17

10/02/17
Highlights from Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman’s online Q&A: “Math, Tipping Points, and Planet Earth” (April 2018)
What do lakes, fisheries, coral reefs, moods, kayaks, social media posts, the spread of disease, and the Earth’s energy balance all have in common? Tipping points: when a system changes abruptly from one alternative steady state to another. How can mathematical modeling help support decision making in the face of these alternative possibilities? What makes for resilience? What causes change?
On April 19, 2018, mathematician Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College) answered your questions about these exciting and accessible dynamics, which can inform your own choices and those of our global society. She was joined by environmental scientist Dr. Ross Lieblappen (Vermont Technical College).
Dr. Zeeman is a professor of mathematics at Bowdoin College in Maine. She is also the codirector of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and on the executive council of the Computational Sustainability Network, working with other researchers to build understanding of how mathematics can help us make decisions for sustainability and resilience in the face of a changing planet.
Dr. Lieblappen is an assistant professor at Vermont Technical College who teaches physics and environmental biology. Ross is a specialist in polar research, especially what we can learn from the microstructure of snow and ice. Here’s a photo of him sharing ice core samples with visitors to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Online Q&A Highlights
Tipping points apply across many different kinds of systems. Not only coral reefs, ponds, and other natural environments, but your mood, social media, and many other phenomena are all subject to the choices we make. You can find a short video from Dr. Zeeman’s talk at the National Math Festival last year if you want an example of some tipping points!
Highlights: Tipping Points and Planet Earth” with Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Q: What do the ice cores have to do with the mathematics you research?
Answer (Dr. Lieblappen): Ice cores are a fascinating material with many different research questions they can help answer. Different types of ice cores can help answer different questions. The first distinction to make is whether the ice is glacial ice (meaning it is from a glacier/ice sheet and over land) or sea ice (frozen ocean). Glacial ice cores from Antarctica or Greenland can help us answer questions about the climate of Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. The Antarctica Ice sheet has places where the ice is 2 miles thick and about 800,000 years old. Sea ice does not get much thicker than 10 feet and is usually only 110 years old. Thus, the scientific questions it can help answer are generally more geared to recent climate.
My personal research is primarily on sea ice cores. I am interested in understanding the structure of the ice. Sea ice has a complex network of salt water (brine) channels that remain liquid even at very cold temperatures. These channels provide a pathway for chemical compounds such as salts to travel between the ocean and the atmosphere, where they can play a role in atmospheric chemistry.
Answer (Dr. Zeeman): Good question! Check out the graph of Earth’s global temperature history over the last 800,000 years here. It shows temperature and CO2, and their really tightly linked behavior. The data to build those graphs came from the ice cores. Math modeling of climate processes is then used to help understand which processes could be responsible for the observations we see, and how the processes interact with each other.
Q: I’m looking for some hope in terms of how close we are to a tipping point (or past one) for correcting climate change. Is there any modeling or research done on course correcting the changes we’ve made to the atmosphere/environment, or are we only looking at ways to now deal with the new (an possibly inhospitable) global climate we’ve created?
Share the 2019 Festival on Social Media
We’ve created the following images which can be used to spread the news about the date of the next National Math Festival—May 4, 2019! You can download these images (right click and “save image” on desktop computers, or save to your mobile device’s photo album) and use these to post about the Festival on social media or in newsletters.
Image 1:
Image 2:
We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C. for the 2019 Festival!
2019 Festival: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Room
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Room will be home to many short, creative math films throughout the Festival, as well as opportunities for Q&A with your favorite filmmakers and presenters. We look forward to publishing the film schedule in Fall 2018.
Most films will be geared toward teens, middle schoolers, and adults. You can expect to see some special film events just for elementary students, too!
2019 Festival: The DREME Network, Stanford University
The DREME Network (Development and Research in Early Math Education), Stanford University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the DREME Network to the 2019 Festival’s Make and Take Spiral.
The DREME Network was created in 2014 to advance the field of early mathematics research and improve young children’s opportunities to develop math skills. The Network focuses on math from birth through age eight years, with an emphasis on the preschool years. Network members and affiliates collaborate to conduct basic and applied research and develop innovative tools that address highpriority early math topics and inform and motivate other researchers, educators, policymakers and the public.
The DREME Network is sponsored by the HeisingSimons Foundation. DREME Network affiliates at the 2019 National Math Festival include:
 Boston College
 Department of Child and Adolescent Development, San Francisco State University
 Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
 Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University
 Teachers College, Columbia University
 University of Chicago
 University of Wisconsin
2019 Festival: The Young People’s Project
The Young People’s Project
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes The Young People’s Project back for the 2019 Festival!
The Young People’s Project (YPP) uses Math Literacy Work to develop the abilities of elementary through high school students to succeed in school and in life, and in doing so involves them in efforts to eliminate institutional obstacles to their success. YPP envisions a day when every young person — regardless of ethnicity, gender, or class — has access to a highquality education and the skills, attributes, and community support s/he needs to successfully meet the challenges of their generation.
Flagway™ Games and Flagway™ Tournament
Math with your sneakers on! Play a pickup game of Flagway™ , and cheer your favorite hometown team in the national Flagway™ Tournament. Meet Math Literacy Workers, students who train their peers (and you!) in the math skills to help everyone shine in this fun, exciting team sport.
View the National Flagway™ Tournament in action at the 2017 National Math Festival:
National Flagway™ Tournament from The Young People’s Project on Vimeo.
2019 Festival: Natural Math and Math OnAStick
Natural Math and Math OnAStick
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Natural Math and Math OnAStick back for the 2019 Festival!
Math OnAStick is a fun family math event at the Minnesota State Fair. Children aged 2+ and their families and friends enjoy tiling, counting, spinning, creating, and most of all playing with numbers, patterns, and shapes.
Website: Math OnAStick
Twitter
Facebook
Natural Math is an international community that creates rich, playful, and meaningful mathematical experiences for everybody from toddlers to grownups. Everything starts with math stories and math adventures! Snowflakes are examples of fractals and an invitation to explore symmetry. Sliced fruit illustrates integrals and derivatives. Floor tiles form beautiful tessellations. Natural Math helps to organize math circles, publishes books, offers online courses, and addresses parents’ questions in an online forum.
Website: Natural Math
Facebook
At the 2019 Festival
Make patterns, tile turtles, count, spiral, and play your way to mathy delight! Aimed for children ages 25, activities also engage the minds of teens and adults. If a small child can be inspired by our geometry, calculus, topology, and more (and they can!), then everyone can.
2019 Festival: Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival
Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival back for the 2019 Festival!
Julia Robinson Mathematics Festivals inspire students to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through activities that encourage collaborative, creative problem solving. Festivals are held around the country at different times throughout the year. See jrmf.org for upcoming events near you!
At the 2019 Festival
The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival: The same mathematics that carried us to the moon, that gave us the internet, that has advanced genetics – this same mathematics can keep you engaged, charmed, excited for hours.
2019 Festival: Dr. Amelia Taylor (Zymergen)
Dr. Amelia Taylor (Zymergen)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Amelia Taylor to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Amelia Taylor is a data scientist at Zymergen, a technology company integrating machine learning and manufacturing technologies to create novel products and materials from biology. At Zymergen, she builds data science tools to more efficiently design experiments, collect and store data, and analyze that data to accelerate the pace of Zymergen’s engineering cycles. Prior to joining Zymergen, Taylor competed for and completed the Insight Data Science Fellows Program, a rapid immersion training program where, in just four weeks, she created an endtoend data tool for a utility company to predict which of their meters had been tampered with. Before becoming a data scientist, she spent 16 years as a mathematics professor, including at Colorado College.
Data Did That!
Join data scientist Dr. Amelia Taylor to learn how data about you is collected, and how it is transformed into shopping recommendations, friend suggestions, genetically engineered microbes, smart homes, and much, much more.
2019 Festival: Nancy Scherich (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Nancy Scherich (University of California, Santa Barbara)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Nancy Scherich to the 2019 Festival!
Nancy Scherich is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara working on her Ph.D. in mathematics. She has been a dancer for her entire life, and recently she has decided to mix her passions of math and dance together. In addition to her research, she creates MathDance productions using dance to illustrate the beauty of higher mathematics.
At the 2019 Festival
People all around the world love braiding: weavers, hairdressers…and even mathematicians! Meet mathematician Nancy Scherich and learn about how she uses dance to teach the mathematics of braids.
2019 Festival: Dr. Annie Raymond (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Dr. Annie Raymond (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Annie Raymond to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Annie Raymond is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Originally from Montreal, she studied math and music at MIT as an undergrad before pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics at the Technische Universitaet in Berlin and a postdoc at the University of Washington. At any given moment, you will most likely find her thinking about extremal graph theory and sums of squares—perhaps while riding her bicycle or playing the piano—or reflecting on education in prisons, on how to increase diversity in STEM, and on how to bake the perfect sourdough.
Math and Your Love Life
Suppose a school has the same number of heterosexual guys and girls looking to date. If everyone has a clear ranking of their favorites, can we pair them up so that no couple breaks up? We’ll see that math is a powerful matchmaker, and that you should ask your crush out ASAP.
2019 Festival: BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT
BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT to the 2019 National Math Festival!
BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT, a NYC based dance company, presents the choreography of Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selissen. The movement exhibits subtle nuances contrasted with explosive athletic extremes and is regarded for its integrity and idiosyncratic style. B/S P has been presented at venues including Jacob’s Pillow, SUNY Stony Brook’s Staller Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bryant Park in NYC, Wilson College 2017 Summer AIR, Uferstudios Berlin, and the EICC in Scotland (Booking Dance and Fringe Festivals). Notable collaborations are with Juano Castillo, FALKOR Systems, Reggie Watts/Sally Taylor, Jim Simons and Sirius String Quartet on Differential Cohomology, and Martinus Miroto/live 3D Holograms. Barkin and Selissen teach internationally and are also both longtime members of Janis Brenner and Dancers.
At the 2019 Festival
Inspired by Dr. James Simons’s theory, BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT’S Differential Cohomology: Dance of the Diagram merges math and art through lush athletic choreography, hexagonal patterns, and an intriguing cyclical course that illustrates the journey toward the inevitable.
2019 Festival: The Bridges Organization
The Bridges Organization
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Bridges Organization back for the 2019 Festival!
The Bridges Organization inspires creativity at the intersection between mathematics and the visual and performing arts. Launched in 1998 as an international conference entitled, “Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science,” and hosted annually since that year, the Bridges conference is the largest interdisciplinary conference in mathematics and the arts in the world. Outside the conference setting, the Bridges Organization focuses on innovative and integrative outreach that promotes interdisciplinary work in the fields of mathematics and art.
MathArt Exhibit and Platonic Paper Folding
Who knew math could be so inspirational, or patterns so beautiful? Come be surprised by the way artists use math, and mathematicians use art, to make a statement about the universe.
2019 Festival: MIND Research Institute
MIND Research Institute
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes MIND Research Institute to the 2019 Festival!
MIND Research Institute is a neuroscience and education social impact organization whose mission is to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. We work to create unique and effective learning environments for students, teachers, and families, both inside and outside of the classroom.
MathMINDs Games: South of the Sahara
MathMINDs Games: South of the Sahara gives students, teachers, and families a completely new way to engage with math. Each story brings together historical facts, ancient gameplay, mathematics, and the world around us to create a highly connected experience.
2019 Festival: National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) back for the 2019 Festival!
The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) allows adults and children alike to experience the evolving, creative, aesthetic, and often surprising nature of mathematics. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the Museum is home to more than three dozen handson, engaging exhibits that showcase the fascinating world of mathematics. MoMath has also designed and implemented hundreds of innovative programs around the country including interactive presentations, math tournaments, camp programs, book discussions, movie nights, math tours, storytelling sessions, nights of comedy, mathematical concerts, and a wide variety of public outreach events.
At the 2019 Festival
Want to slice shapes with lasers, explore giant mazes, crank up the math tunes, design a roller coaster, or build a giant Fibonacci spiral? Then don’t miss MoMath at the National Math Festival!
2019 Festival: Dr. Richard Schwartz (Young Adult Author and Illustrator)
Dr. Richard Schwartz (Young Adult Author)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mathical Book Prize winning author Richard Schwartz to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Richard Schwartz grew up in Los Angeles and spent his youth obsessively playing tennis until video games distracted him. He is Professor of Mathematics at Brown University. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Invited Speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians. In his spare time he likes to draw pictures, write computer programs, listen to music, cycle, work out at the gym, and spend time with his wife and daughters.
Mathical Reading with Richard Schwartz: Really Big Numbers
How big are the numbers in Really Big Numbers? They start out small, and grow so large that your mind will be (we guarantee it) fully boggled! Join the author/illustrator/math professor Dr. Richard Schwartz for a tour through this colorful title.
2019 Festival: Seth Fishman (Children’s Author)
Seth Fishman (Mathical Author)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mathical Book Prize winning author Seth Fishman to the 2019 Festival!
Seth Fishman can hold his breath for 163 seconds and likes to blink about 15,000 times a day. He has also written 2 books for teenagers. He lives with his family in Los Angeles, California. A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars was a Mathical Book Prize Award Winner in 2018 (Grades 35).
Mathical Reading with Seth Fishman: A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
Join stargazing author Seth Fishman as he dives into humongous numbers. From the hundred billion trillion stars to a trampoline explanation of gravity, he engages the audience, asks the hard (er, silly) questions, and makes it clear that you are the one number that matters.
2019 Festival: Steve Light (Children’s Author and Illustrator)
Steve Light (Mathical Author)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mathical Book Prize winning author Steve Light to the 2019 Festival!
Steve Light grew up in New Jersey. He studied illustration at Pratt Institute. Upon graduating he did corporate illustrations for companies such as AT&T, Sony Films, and the New York Times Book Review. He has since published several books, including the 2015 Mathical Award Winner Have You Seen My Dragon?, Swap!, Black Bird Yellow Sun, and Builders and Breakers. He lives with his family in New York City.
Mathical Reading with Steve Light: Have You Seen My Dragon?
Join children’s book author and illustrator Steve Light as he reads Have You Seen My Dragon? and demonstrates his drawing process!
2019 Festival: Wendy Lichtman (Young Adult Author)
Wendy Lichtman (Mathical Author)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mathical Book Prize winning author Wendy Lichtman to the 2019 Festival!
Wendy Lichtman holds a degree in mathematics, and when she decided to write the story behind Secrets, Lies and Algebra – about a teen realizing that some questions have more than one right answer – algebra, with its unknowns and variables, seemed a perfect metaphor. Lichtman is the author of six novels for young adults and her personal essays have appeared in many national newspapers and magazine, including the Washington Post, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Good Housekeeping. In addition to writing, she is a consultant and “Math Therapist” at MetWest High School in Oakland, California. Secrets, Lies, and Algebra is a Mathical Honor Book (Grades 68).
Mathical Reading with Wendy Lichtman: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra
Secrets, Lies and Algebra: Join author Wendy Lichtman as she reads in the voice of Tess, an 8th grader who uses mathematical thinking to solve the real problems in her life. All those unknowns and variables in Tess’s friendships? Sounds like navigating junior high, doesn’t it?
2019 Festival: Judy Cox (Children’s Author)
Judy Cox (Mathical Author)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mathical Book Prize winning author Judy Cox to the 2019 Festival!
Judy Cox is the author of Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, a 2018 Mathical Book Prize Award Winner (Grades K2). She is a former elementary school teacher and is also the author of picture books such as Haunted House, Haunted Mouse and chapter books including Ukulele Hayley, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book, and The Secret Chicken Society, which was nominated for four state awards and named a Best of the Best title by the Chicago Public Library. She lives in Oregon.
Mathical Reading with Judy Cox: Sheep Won’t Sleep
Join children’s author Judy Cox as she reads Sheep Won’t Sleep, a most wooly and unusual counting book!
2019 Festival: Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College)
Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman back for the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman uses mathematics within crossdisciplinary research communities to help understand sustainability, climate change, and protecting the health of the planet. Zeeman is a codirector of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, a member of the executive council of the Computational Sustainability Network, and a coleader of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Initiative. She is a professor of Mathematics at Bowdoin College.
At the 2019 Festival
Come and see inside an ancient ice core, and find out about cool ways you can use math to help keep Planet Earth healthy.
You can view Dr. Zeeman’s 2017 Festival presentation:
2019 Festival: Dr. Avi Wigderson (Institute for Advanced Study)
Dr. Avi Wigderson (Institute for Advanced Study)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Avi Wigderson to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Avi Wigderson is a Professor in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study since 1999, where he leads the Institute’s Computer Science and Discrete Math Program. He works in the Theory of Computation, a field which studies the mathematical foundations of computer science. He is interested in algorithms, Boolean and arithmetic circuit complexity, communication and proof complexity, cryptography, randomness, as well as the interactions of the field with other sciences including mathematics, physics, biology and economics.
Cryptography: Secrets and Lies, Knowledge and Trust
Can you play poker on the telephone with people you don’t trust? Amazingly, you can! Come find out how—the ideas involved, and related ones, also underlie internet security and ecommerce.
2019 Festival: Dr. Suzanne L. Weekes (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Dr. Suzanne L. Weekes (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Suzanne L. Weekes to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Suzanne L. Weekes is Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Her interests are in mathematical and computer models that play a part in real world applications such as movie animation, the development of materials which can be engineered in the future, and cancer growth. She codirects the national PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) Program, and she is a founding codirector of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRIUP). She chairs the Education Committee of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and serves on the SIAM Career Opportunities Committee. She is also a member of the steering committee of the BIG Math Network and is on the Mathematics Advisory Group of Transforming PostSecondary Education in Mathematics (TPSE Math).
Safety Goggles Not Required: Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Your Laptop
Computational modeling: from movie art to cancer experiments, explore how information travels through materials “created” in a laptop laboratory. Join Dr. Suzanne Weekes as she explores this unexpected mathematical sphere.
2019 Festival: John Urschel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
John Urschel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes John Urschel to the 2019 Festival!
John Urschel is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former NFL offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
Profile in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (PDF)
Twitter
Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Q&A Session (September 2017)
At the 2019 Festival
Join John Urschel, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman and Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at MIT, for a popular mathematics talk for high schoolers and up!
2019 Festival: Dr. James Tanton (Mathematical Association of America)
Dr. James Tanton (Mathematical Association of America)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. James Tanton to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. James Tanton is an author, a consultant, and an ambassador for the Mathematical Association of America in Washington D.C., currently serving as their MathematicianatLarge. He has taught mathematics both at university and highschool institutions. He is absolutely committed to promoting effective and joyful mathematics thinking, learning, and doing at all levels of the education spectrum. He is a founder of The Global Math Project, an initiative transform the entire world’s perception of what mathematics can and should be. Already over 3.8 million students and teachers from over 150 countries have taken part in a common joyous piece of mathematics and saw how classroom mathematics can serve as a portal for human joy, wonder, and delight.
At the 2019 Festival
Join Dr. James Tanton as he explores “How Many Degrees in are a Martian Circle? (And Other Human, and NonHuman, Questions One Should Ask About Math)”!
2019 Festival: Dr. Joseph Teran (University of California, Los Angeles)
Dr. Joseph Teran (University of California, Los Angeles)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Joseph Teran to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Joseph Teran is Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on computer simulation of realistic motion; a large component of his work is focused on the simulation of the human body. His work has applications in movie special effects. He works with Walt Disney Animation applying scientific computing techniques to simulate the dynamics of virtual materials such as skin/soft tissue, water, smoke, and recently, snow for the movie Frozen. He received a 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and a 2010 Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research.
At the 2019 Festival
Who made the ocean flow in “Moana”? Who made the snow swirl in “Frozen”? Mathematicians, that’s who! Come learn about the math behind the magic of modern movie visual effects!
2019 Festival: Dr. Francis Su (Harvey Mudd College)
Dr. Francis Su (Harvey Mudd College)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Francis Su to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Francis Su is Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, and past president of the Mathematical Association of America. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and his research is geometric combinatorics. He received the 2001 Hasse Prize for expository writing, and the 2013 Haimo Award for distinguished teaching from the Mathematical Association of America. He authors the popular Math Fun Facts website and is creator of “MathFeed,” the math news app. His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing will be published by Yale University Press in 2019.
Mathematics for Human Flourishing
How does mathematics help people flourish? How does it connect to basic human desires? If math is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it? Through stories and a selection of math fun facts, Dr. Francis Su will share the joy, beauty, wonder, playfulness, and surprise that math can bring.
2019 Festival: Dr. Emily Riehl (Johns Hopkins University)
2019 Festival: Dr. Emily Riehl (Johns Hopkins University)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Emily Riehl to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Emily Riehl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Her research, supported by the National Science Foundation, is on “abstract nonsense” (specifically ∞dimensional category theory) and homotopy theory, the algebra of “continuous deformations” between mathematical objects. She fell in love with Australian Rules Football on the first of several research trips to Australia and has been a member of the US Women’s National Team since 2010.
The Mathematics of Social Choice
If more than two candidates run for office, how should the winner be chosen? Mathematics suggests several options. Join Dr. Emily Riehl to delve into the paradoxes and possibilities of the mathematics of voting.
2019 Festival: Dr. Holly Krieger (University of Cambridge)
Dr. Holly Krieger (University of Cambridge)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Holly Krieger to the 2019 National Math Festival!
Dr. Holly Krieger is the Corfield Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and Director of Studies and Fellow in Maths at Murray Edwards College, one of the few womenonly Cambridge colleges. She is wellknown as a guest on the YouTube channel Numberphile, where her videos on the fascinating arithmetic and dynamical features of the Mandelbrot set have drawn millions of views. In her research she studies the interactions between families of complex dynamical systems and number theory, and in her free time she reads, travels, cooks, and subjects unsuspecting strangers to photos of her border collie mix Konrad.
At the 2019 Festival
You’ve seen her on the YouTube channel Numberphile. Now join Dr. Holly Krieger as she explores the beautifully weird and weirdly beautiful world of pure mathematics — a world of chaotic attractors, narcissistic numbers, and more!
2019 Festival: Dr. Lillian Pierce (Duke University)
Dr. Lillian Pierce (Duke University)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Lillian Pierce to the 2019 Festival!
Dr. Lillian Pierce grew up homeschooled in a small town in California, where she developed a lifelong fondness for Renaissance music and perfectly ripe avocados. She then studied mathematics at Princeton, where she graduated as valedictorian, and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, before earning her doctorate in mathematics at Princeton in 2009. She subsequently was a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Marie Curie Fellow at Oxford, and a Bonn Junior Fellow at the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. She is currently Associate Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. Her research in mathematics centers on questions in number theory and harmonic analysis. As an educator, she aims to convey both the beauty and the practical relevance of mathematics in our lives. In addition, she is working with a wide array of mathematicians and organizations to generate a 21st century mathematics community, which welcomes everyone.
At the 2019 Festival
Would you cook dinner from a 300yearold recipe book? Make clothes from a 300yearold pattern? Undergo treatment from a 300yearold medical manuscript? Probably not. But what about playing a 300yearold piece of music? Or studying a 300yearold mathematical idea? Math and music seem to age better than some other aspects of human culture. Come take a tour of some highlights over the past few hundred years, with mathematician and violinist Dr. Lillian Pierce.
2019 Festival: Mark Mitton, Magician
Mark Mitton, Magician
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mark Mitton back for the 2019 Festival!
Mark Mitton is a professional magician who is fascinated by using magic to better understand how we see the world. In addition to performing at private and corporate events all over the world, and creating magic for film, television, the Broadway stage, and Cirque du Soleil, Mitton tirelessly explores the theme of ‘Misdirection’ from an interdisciplinary standpoint. He regularly presents on ‘Perception’ at universities and conferences in North America and Europe, including the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has lectured with the late Nobel laureate Dr. Gerald Edelman of The Neurosciences Institute.
Mitton has performed at festivals in Europe and Asia; at the Olympic Games; in wartorn Liberia; in hospital wards around New York City; and in a Mexican orphanage. His magical hands are featured in a They Might Be Giants video.
Impromptu Magic & Math – Learn Stunts to Dazzle your Friends and Family!
Magician Mark Mitton will teach you magic tricks, puzzles, and mathematical curiosities from the writings of the legendary Martin Gardner. Join us as we share secrets to feats you can perform with everyday objects, anywhere and anytime! Playing with surprise is a great way to prepare for and consider the wonders of math. This is a dynamic workshop with lots of fun for the whole family.
Global Math Week 2017: In Review
This guest post is written by James Tanton, MathematicianatLarge, Mathematical Association of America.
A global phenomenon in mathematics occurred in October of 2017.
Over 1 million students and teachers from 168 countries and territories shared a common experience of joyous, uplifting, classroomrelevant mathematics. All was grassroots. All was volunteer. And all was propelled by our beautiful global community of teachers simply wanting to share the joy and wonder of meaningful mathematics with their students. It was the world’s inaugural Global Math Week.
Did you miss participating? Get a glimpse of the substance of the math program that inspired so many students ages 10 to 80 with Dr. Raj Shah’s talk on Exploding Dots at the 2017 National Math Festival.
The Global Math Project has proven that genuine mathematical exploration really does transcend borders to unite communities across the planet:
 96.8% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that the Global Math Week topic of Exploding Dots helped students see mathematics as more approachable, 96.6% as more enjoyable, 96.1% as making sense, and 93.1% as helping students be more confident in mathematics.
 75.5% of teachers said that Exploding Dots changed their own perception of mathematics in some way with 97.7% agreeing or strongly agreeing that Exploding Dots made mathematics more enjoyable, 97.3% as more approachable, and 96.0% as more understandable.
 The Global Math Week 2017 website, explodingdots.org, is still receiving thousands of visits each day.
What’s in store for years to come? Global Math Week returns October 1017, 2018, when we plan to roll out additional classroomrelevant experiences. If you register on the Exploding Dots or Global Math Project websites, you will find out the latest when it occurs.
Cheers,
James
PS: As one more bit of fun, you might try finding your own Personal Polynomial, a small endeavor created with MSRI and the National Math Festival.
Hurricane Math with Dr. Talea Mayo
In recognition of hurricane season, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) invited 2017 Festival presenter Dr. Talea L. Mayo to answer some of our questions about the math behind hurricanes. Mayo is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. She specializes in coastal ocean modeling, with special interests in hurricane storm surge modeling, flood risk assessment, and the development of mathematical methods of improving models using data.
Hurricane Math Q&A with Dr. Talea L. Mayo
What is mathematical modeling? How do you use math to predict hurricane storm surges?
Mathematical modeling is the process of describing physical phenomena in terms of equations. Scientists often assess what causes changes in physical systems and then use differential equations to describe these changes and processes.
Special differential equations describe changes in the water height and currents of the coastal ocean. These are called the shallow water equations. If a hurricane is approaching, this is included as one of the factors that causes change.
What other factors affect the amount of damage from hurricanes?
Many things can affect the amount of damage from hurricanes. Heavy rainfall and the wind speed, or severity of the storm, can be very damaging. The translational speed (how fast the storm moves) and the size of the hurricane are factors that can play large roles in these.
What is one surprising fact about hurricanes, from a math viewpoint?
One surprising fact about hurricanes is that a stronger storm (e.g. a category 5) does not necessarily cause the most damage/deaths. Many additional factors are at play in the equations/physics behind surge.
Do you prepare for hurricanes differently yourself, now that you know the math behind them?
I definitely do not know all of the math behind hurricanes. On the contrary, studying storm surges has allowed me to develop a much better understanding of just how much I don’t know. This understanding makes me more readily trust the experts, and so I look to the National Hurricane Center for guidance much more than I used to. I also have a better understanding of the inherent uncertainties in science.
What function do hurricanes serve in nature?
One purpose hurricanes serve in nature is restoring natural equilibrium. They sometimes bring heavy rainfall to regions in drought and restore barrier islands through sediment transport.
How do you personally feel about hurricanes? Does your professional work as a mathematician change your attitude about them at all?
Hurricanes are very scary phenomena. My work allows me to keep my fear at bay because I can base my decisions on science/facts instead of emotions alone.
How did you decide to devote your career to hurricane math?
I decided to devote my career to hurricane math after watching people from my racial group be disproportionately affected by Hurricane Katrina. I saw math as a valuable tool to improve the models and forecasts that could be used to save lives.
Where could a young person go to learn more about math and weather?
A great resource to learn about math and weather is the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. Both have great websites with educational tabs just for students. You can explore their educational resources here and here.
What kind of math is this? What kind of career paths use this kind of math?
Storm surge modeling is applied math. Lots of other careers use math too, including cryptography (cracking codes), engineering, biostatistics, and operations research (decision making) to name a few.
The image below shows how maximum storm surge heights were simulated for Hurricane Irene in 2011. I generated this figure using the National Weather Service’s Sea Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) display program.
2017 Festival: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Room
Film Screenings at the 2017 Festival
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute announces the following schedule of films to be screened at the National Math Festival. The suggested age level for most films is 11+.
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of film screenings at the 2017 Festival, as well as NOVA and Zala Films.
Navajo Math Circles
Hundreds of Navajo children in recent years have found themselves at the center of a lively collaboration with mathematicians from around the world. The children stay late after school and assemble over the summer to study mathematics, using a model called math circles, which originated in Eastern Europe and which has proliferated across the United States. This notion of studentcentered learning puts children in charge of exploring mathematics to their own joy and satisfaction, with potentially longlasting results. (59 minutes)
As of this writing, the film has won 9 awards, having been chosen by the One Nation Film Festival, the United Nations Association Film Festival, the Vision Maker Film Festival, and more.
The National Math Festival thanks Zala Films for their support of this program. More info about this film→
The Origami Revolution
The centuriesold tradition of folding twodimensional paper into threedimensional shapes is inspiring a scientific revolution. The rules of folding are at the heart of many natural phenomena, from how leaves blossom to how beetles fly. But now, engineers and designers are applying its principles to reshape the world around us—and even within us, designing new drugs, microrobots, and future space missions. With this burgeoning field of origamiinspireddesign, the question is: can the mathematics of origami be boiled down to one elegant algorithm—a failproof guidebook to make any object out of a flat surface, just by folding? And if so, what would that mean for the future of design? Explore the hightech future of this ageold art as NOVA unfolds “The Origami Revolution.” (54 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks NOVA for their support of this program. More info about this film→
Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — brilliant AfricanAmerican women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. (127 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. More info about this film→
Skylab
An 11 yearold spends the summer of 1979 certain that Skylab, America’s first space station — then falling back to Earth, though no expert could say where — is about to land on top of him. It might almost make him less miserable if it did; he is spending the summer with his mother who is planning a second marriage to a guy he can’t stand. (13 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
The Collector’s Gift
A young girl discovers a treasure chest containing all the elements of the periodic table. It belonged to a scientist, who died just as he was bottling the last one – Cobalt. In Ryan Kravetz’s short film The Collector’s Gift, these characters are modeled and then animated. (9 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
Chasing Patterns
The young hero of Chasing Patterns is lucky enough to have a teacher who encourages his fascination with the patterns he sees in sunflowers and pine cones — a passion that dovetails with his love of narrative, especially a book of Arthurian legends that belonged to his late mother. (17 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
Haber
Fritz Haber was a brilliant GermanJewish chemist with one of the most amazing dual legacies in history. His revolutionary process for creating synthetic fertilizers averted the greatest overpopulation crisis the world has ever known and won him a Nobel Prize in 1918. However, Haber used his genius to create the first chemical weapon, which was used during World War I. NOTE: Adult content, may not be suitable for younger viewers. (34 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
The Monster and the Peanut
The Monster and the Peanut is about a man who believes the tragic death of his young daughter can be explained by the rules of traffic flow. It suggests that for some people, science (the repository of reason) becomes a substitute religion, which can explain away the troubling uncertainty of the world. NOTE: Adult content, may not be suitable for younger viewers. (23 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
The King’s Pawn
In 1997, world chess champ Gary Kasparov went headtohead with the computer Deep Blue in a muchdiscussed match. Kasparov lost, leading to a flurry of discussion surrounding the possibilities of computer intelligence. The King’s Pawn presents a fictionalized version of a similar matchup. A former chess master, Martin, who has been “training” a computer for years, comes up against his old nemesis in a televised competition. (18 minutes)
The National Math Festival thanks the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of this program. View this film→
2017 Festival: Laura Overdeck, Bedtime Math
Laura Overdeck, Bedtime Math
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Laura Overdeck of Bedtime Math to the 2017 Festival!
Laura Overdeck is the founder of Bedtime Math, a nonprofit that aims to help kids love math like dessert. Her playful nightly math problems have entertained over a quarter million families via the Bedtime Math app, daily email, and Overdeck’s three children’s books (Macmillan). Her title Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal is a Mathical Honor Book. In parallel, Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8s Club is a handson afterschool math club for grades K5; it has launched in over 8,000 locations serving nearly 90,000 kids. Overdeck is also chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation. She is a vice chair of the board at Liberty Science Center, and serves on the advisory boards of Khan Academy, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Science Friday, and the President’s Advisory Council at Princeton University. She holds a BA in astrophysics from Princeton and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.
Bedtime Math and Beyond
Math is behind every football toss, roll of toilet paper, and extrachunky chocolate chip cookie. But somehow our culture teaches kids that math is a dry, tedious subject exclusively for school hours. Making math 1) social, 2) handson, and 3) engaging can overhaul how kids see math beyond the classroom – even to the point of changing MRI images of their brains. See how you can get into the act!
2017 Festival: Dr. Eugenia Cheng, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Dr. Eugenia Cheng, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Eugenia Cheng to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and pianist. She is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and won tenure in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is now Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Visiting Fellow at City University, London. Alongside her research and undergraduate teaching her aim is to rid the world of “math phobia.”
Her first popular math book, How to Bake Pi, was published in 2015 to widespread acclaim, and she was interviewed around the world. Cheng was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over a million times. She has also assisted with mathematics in elementary schools and high schools for almost 20 years. Her next popular math book, Beyond Infinity, launches in March 2017. She is also a concert pianist and runs the Liederstube, a nonprofit organization in Chicago bringing classical music to a wider audience. Her first art commission is from Hotel EMC2 in Chicago, and consists of mathematical chalkboard installations that will be hung in April 2017.
How to Bake Pi: Math Made Tasty
Mathematics can be tasty! It’s a way of thinking, and not just about numbers. Through unexpectedly connected examples from music, juggling, and baking, I will show that math can be made fun and intriguing for all, through handson activities, examples that everyone can relate to, and funny stories. I’ll present surprisingly highlevel mathematics, including some advanced abstract algebra usually only seen by math majors and graduate students. There will be a distinct emphasis on edible examples.
2017 Festival: Andrea Razzaghi, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Andrea Razzaghi, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Andrea Razzaghi to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Andrea Razzaghi is the Deputy Director of Astrophysics for NASA and a recognized NASA Modern Figure, a program honoring the contributions of African American women scientists and engineers at NASA. Razzaghi manages a portfolio of over 20 NASA missions and/or international partnerships including our nation’s Great Observatories in space: Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer, which have transformed our understanding of the cosmos, and Kepler, which discovered that virtually all the stars in the night sky have planets and was the first NASA mission to find Earthsize planets in the “habitable zone.” Razzaghi earned her bachelors of science in mechanical engineering from Brown University and her masters of science in mechanical engineering design from the Catholic University of America. This July will mark her 32nd year with NASA.
Math: Charting NASA’s Journey in Space
To explore space and make the amazing scientific discoveries that NASA is famous for requires math at every step of the journey! NASA’s Deputy Director of Astrophysics, Andrea Razzaghi, will show you exciting NASA missions made possible by math.
Andrea Razzaghi – Math: Charting NASA’s Journey in Space from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Mark Mitton and Dr. James Gardner
Mark Mitton and Dr. James Gardner
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Mark Mitton and Dr. James Gardner to the 2017 Festival!
Mark Mitton is a professional magician who is fascinated by using magic to better understand how we see the world. In addition to performing at private and corporate events all over the world, and creating magic for film, television, the Broadway stage, and Cirque du Soleil, Mitton tirelessly explores the theme of ‘Misdirection’ from an interdisciplinary standpoint. He regularly presents on ‘Perception’ at universities and conferences in North America and Europe, including the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has lectured with the late Nobel laureate Dr. Gerald Edelman of The Neurosciences Institute.
Mitton has performed at festivals in Europe and Asia; at the Olympic Games; in wartorn Liberia; in hospital wards around New York City; and in a Mexican orphanage. His magical hands are featured in a They Might Be Giants video.
Dr. James Gardner considers personal and instructional technologies essential tools that help educators solve problems. His scholarship focuses on the use of technology in educational settings, and technology applications for students with disabilities and learners atrisk for school failure. A professor of special education in the educational psychology department at the University of Oklahoma, he has held leadership positions in state and national educational technology organizations. His hobbies include gadgets, scuba diving, and keeping alive the mathematical excitement of his father Martin Gardner’s legacy.
Impromptu Magic and Math: Learn Stunts to Dazzle your Friends and Family!
Magician Mark Mitton and educator Dr. James Gardner will teach you magic tricks, puzzles, and mathematical curiosities from the writings of the legendary Martin Gardner. Join us as they share secrets to feats that you can perform with everyday objects, anywhere and anytime! Playing with surprise is a great way to prepare for and consider the wonders of math. This is a dynamic workshop with lots of fun for the whole family.
The Art of Misdirection
Join professional magician Mark Mitton for math, magic, and fun — by way of misdirection!
2017 Festival: Events DC / Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is located in downtown Washington, D.C. just a few blocks from the White House and other attractions.
A Mathematical Art Tour
Join us for a curatorled mathematical tour of the permanent art collection mounted throughout the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Bring your walking shoes. Limited to 20 people. Presented by Events DC, owner/operator of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
2017 Festival: Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence, University of San Francisco
Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence, University of San Francisco
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of San Francisco. One of her passions is broadening participation in the mathematical sciences by mentoring and outreach in various nationally recognized programs, such as the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Program for Women and the MSRIUP summer program for undergraduates. As a selfproclaimed Math Coach, she loves talking about mathematics to a wide range of audiences to promote its beauty and accessibility.
How Does Google Do It? The PageRank Algorithm
When we type a search query into Google, it puts the “good stuff” that we want right up front and all the “junk” at the end. How does it do this? Hint: a little bit of graph theory, and some linear algebra! Come learn more about the mathematics behind web searching.
Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence – How Does Google Do It? The Pagerank Algorithm from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Joan Holub
Joan Holub
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Joan Holub to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Joan Holub has created over 150 children’s books including the New York Times bestselling picture book, Mighty Dads, and the popular Goddess Girls middle grade series. She says, “I hope my books are so interesting and entertaining that kids can almost see the action, like a movie playing in their heads.” Her title Zero the Hero is a Mathical Book Prize honor book.
Zero the Hero: Mask Making Activity
Zoom into math fun, making Zero the Hero masks with picture book author Joan Holub (in costume)! Learn why the number Zero is a math superhero and enjoy a Zero the Hero maskmaking activity and coloring sheets for kids! Zero the Hero is a Mathical Book Prize honor book.
2017 Festival: Dr. Christopher Danielson
Dr. Christopher Danielson, Desmos, Inc. and Normandale Community College
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Christopher Danielson to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Christopher Danielson has worked with math learners of all ages —12 yearolds in his former middle school classroom, calculus students, teachers, and young children and their families at Math OnAStick at the Minnesota State Fair. He designs curriculum at Desmos. He is the author of Common Core Math For Parents For Dummies, the shapes book Which One Doesn’t Belong?, and the forthcoming counting book How Many? He blogs about teaching on Overthinking My Teaching, and for parents at Talking Math with Your Kids.
Which One Doesn’t Belong? and Other Ambiguous Math Questions
Ambiguity is a messy place where real and important mathematics begins. What should you pay attention to in a collection of shapes? If you count the number of sides, you’re doing geometry. If you pay attention to shading, you may be thinking about area (the inside part) and perimeter (the length of the boundary). If you pay attention to orientation, you may be working on your spatial visualization skills. Come experience the power of ambiguity for starting rich math conversations, play, and inquiry. Danielson is the Mathical Book Prize awardwinning author of Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book.
Math OnAStick Sampler
Math OnAStick is an annual event at the Minnesota State Fair where children, parents, and the youngatheart play with counting, patterns, geometry, and more. A proper subset of Math OnAStick activities is here for you to enjoy with Mathical Book Prize awardwinning author Dr. Christopher Danielson. Pattern Machines, tiling turtles, curvy Truchet tiles, and a few surprises are ready to spark your ideas and creativity, so come on in to Math OnAStick!
2017 Festival: Zala Films
Zala Films
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Zala Films to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Zala Films is the imprint of George Paul Csicsery, a writer and independent filmmaker since 1968, was born in Germany in 1948, the son of Hungarian parents. He immigrated to the United States in 1951. He has directed 35 films — dramatic shorts, performance films and documentaries. In 2009 Csicsery was awarded the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communications Award for bringing mathematics to nonmathematical audiences.
Navajo Math Circles
Hundreds of Navajo children in recent years have found themselves at the center of a lively collaboration with mathematicians from around the world. The children stay late after school and assemble over the summer to study mathematics, using a model called math circles, which originated in Eastern Europe and which has proliferated across the United States. This notion of studentcentered learning puts children in charge of exploring mathematics to their own joy and satisfaction, with potentially longlasting results.
Navajo Math Circles Trailer from Zala Films on Vimeo.
The film has screened at seven film festivals, including Arizona International, Vision Maker Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival, and the Sedona International Film Festival. It has also screened at dozens of museums, theaters, and colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is currently being broadcast on PBS+ stations through 2019. For more information see navajomathcirclesfilm.com.
2017 Festival: Dr. Talitha Washington, Howard University
Dr. Talitha Washington, Howard University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Talitha Washington to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Talitha Washington is a mathematician in Howard University’s Department of Mathematics. She enjoys applying mathematics to understand and solve problems in biology, engineering, and physics. After completing her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College, she went on to become the first African American to earn a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Connecticut. She is active in increasing the participation of people of color and women in the mathematics. Learn more at talithawashington.com.
The Mathematics of the ‘Hidden Figures’
What’s the mathematics that Katharine Johnson used to send John Glenn into orbit and bring him back safely? Come and uncover the essential ideas created by Johnson during the Space Race. We will also explore how other ‘Hidden Figures’ helped Johnson become a research mathematician in a racially segregated era.
Dr. Talitha Washington: The Mathematics of the "Hidden Figures" from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College
Dr. Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Colm Mulcahy to the National Math Festival!
Colm Mulcahy is a mathematical magician. He bought his first book of math and magic by Martin Gardner in 1975, and later had the pleasure of getting to know the man himself. His own book on original mathematical card principles, Mathematical Card Magic: FiftyTwo New Effects, was published in 2013. He has written for MAA.org, the Huffington Post, Aperiodical, and Scientific American. He is Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College. For more info about mathematician Martin Gardner and worldwide annual events in his honor, see celebrationofmind.org.
Mathematical Card Magic! Celebration of Mind
You can learn a lot of math, and have a lot of fun, with a simple deck of cards. We’ll demonstrate and teach half a dozen entertaining card tricks that work by themselves, with no sleight of hand, because of underlying *mathemagical* principles. Algebra, combinations, and probability are just some of type of math that make this mixture of classic and new effects work.
2017 Festival: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)
Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is one of the world’s preeminent centers for collaborative research in mathematics. Located in Berkeley, California, MSRI’s mission is to advance mathematical research, foster talent, and further the appreciation of mathematics. MSRI strives to make mathematics accessible and exciting to those outside the field through the National Math Festival, sponsorship of Numberphile (YouTube’s most popular informal mathematics channel, with over 1.9 million subscribers), film production for public television, and the Mathical Book Prize. MSRI has created a national Math Circles movement of small organizations teaching and engaging children in math as a hobby.
We ♥ Math
Picture yourself a math lover? Stop by a photo kiosk and add your smiling face to the We ♥ Math wall. Ages 0100 are welcome!
2017 Festival: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes NASA to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The vision of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. NASA is a United States government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.
Dynamic Planets
NASA’s Dynamic Planet is a 32inch spherical display system that puts a spin on science. This illuminated visualization platform provides a unique and vibrant global perspective of Earth, our sun, various planetary bodies in our solar system, and the universe to increase and improve scientific understanding. The touchscreen interface allows users to navigate hundreds of datasets, each with their own descriptive storytelling text. We promise you’ll have an outofthisworld experience!
What Color is the Ocean?
The color of an object is actually the color of the light reflected while all other colors are absorbed. In this activity, you will use an inexpensive, simple spectrophotometer to test how light at different visible wavelengths (blue, green, red) is transmitted, or absorbed, through four different colored water samples.
Precipitation Towers
Rainfall and snowfall can be measured from the ground, but NASA uses satellites to get the full picture of precipitation around the globe. Come learn how satellites measure precipitation, explore handson graphs that show how much precipitation falls in various places around the world, and think about the different factors that affect the amount of rain and snow in different regions.
2017 Festival: Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Association for Women in Mathematics to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) encourages women and girls to study and to have active careers in the mathematical sciences, and promotes equal opportunity and the equal treatment of women and girls in the mathematical sciences. AWM has more than 3,000 members (women and men) representing a broad spectrum of the mathematical community — from the United States and around the world!
What’s the Meaning of Life? Find Out…
The Game of Life, created by John H. Conway in 1970, is a cellular automaton—a type of mathematical object that replicates itself. The game has four simple and natural rules, yet these rules can produce highly complex and surprising results. This simple simulation game makes it possible to imagine that, with a few basic laws of physics, our universe can create vast and intricate objects, perhaps even intelligent life.
Welcoming two new Math Allies: NAM and SACNAS
The National Math Festival welcomes two new allies to the 2017 Festival: SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) and the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) join four other leading math organizations in the United States to help promote the National Math Festival’s mission to celebrate and share the joy of math with people of all ages. (Learn more about the math organizations supporting the 2017 Festival)
2017 Festival: The George Washington University, Department of Mathematics
The George Washington University, Department of Mathematics
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the George Washington University Department of Mathematics to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The George Washington University is a community in the heart of the nation’s capital that is committed to taking on new challenges and identifying opportunities to make a lasting contribution locally and globally. Our Mathematics Department has a strong research program with a high level of productivity and an international reputation. We provide our graduate and undergraduate students with a supportive environment that allows them to reach their goals and thrive.
Geometric Balloon Bending
What better way to celebrate math than with geometric balloon sculptures? Not a cubeist? Perhaps you’d prefer to wear a tetrahedron hat instead. (Rainbow colors strictly optional, of course.)
2017 Festival: National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the National Museum of Mathematics to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) allows adults and children alike to experience the evolving, creative, aesthetic, and often surprising nature of mathematics. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the Museum is home to more than three dozen handson, engaging exhibits that showcase the fascinating world of mathematics. MoMath has also designed and implemented hundreds of innovative programs around the country including interactive presentations, math tournaments, camp programs, book discussions, movie nights, math tours, storytelling sessions, nights of comedy, mathematical concerts, and a wide variety of public outreach events.
Wonderful Math with MoMath!
Join the National Museum of Mathematics for a day of interactive fun! Slice shapes with lasers, explore giant mazes, crank up the math tunes, design a roller coaster, and more… Enjoy these and other Math Midway classics plus, new this year, experience the surprising shapes of math with Formula Morph and jump into an exciting race of mathematical and visual perception with TetraTruchet.
2017 Festival: Math For Love
Math For Love
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Math for Love to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Math for Love transforms how math is taught and learned by bringing workshops for teachers and students into K12 schools to inspire a playful, artistic approach to mathematics. The founder of Math for Love, Dr. Dan Finkel, is also the cocreator of the math games Prime Climb and Tiny Polka Dot. His TEDx Talk, Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching, is available online.
Billiard Balls and Laser Beams! Celebration of Mind
Imagine a room made entirely of mirrors. Is it possible that a light bulb could turn on and somehow leave part of the room in shadow? Through handson modeling activities, we will explore the surprising and delightful geometry of reflections, and see how geometrical insights can allow us to control the ricocheting of billiard balls on a table and the pathways of lasers off mirrors, straight and curved.
2017 Festival: MathPickle
MathPickle
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes MathPickle to the 2017 National Math Festival!
MathPickle’s primary objective is to get 13 curricular unsolved problems into classrooms worldwide—one for each grade from K12. A conference in November 2013 established the 13 unsolved problems. To aid with the dissemination of these awesome problems, MathPickle is looking at setting up a $1,000,000 reward — the prize money to be split between the person who solves the problem and their most inspirational K12 educator.
Dr. Gordon Hamilton is a board game and puzzle designer. He founded MathPickle in 2010 to inject new ideas into the classroom. There is nothing he enjoys more than stumping students and having them stump him. Gordon is the designer of the board game Santorini, which launched April 2016 with the largest ever Kickstarter for a strategy game.
Santorini and Jumping Frogs! Celebration of Mind
Enjoy strategy games and building games? Try Santorini, the highest ranked family game and pure strategy game on boardgamegeek.com. We’ll also be trying to solve some original puzzles—including Jumping Frogs!
2017 Festival: Ithaca College, Department of Mathematics
Ithaca College, Department of Mathematics
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Ithaca College Department of Mathematics to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Ithaca College, a comprehensive residential campus community of 7,000 students in the Finger Lakes region of New York, offers a learning experience that combines the best of the liberal arts and professional education. The Department of Mathematics provides flexible degree options focusing on close studentfaculty interaction and highlighted by a successful undergraduate research program.
Geometric Balloon Bending
What better way to celebrate math than with geometric balloon sculptures? Not a cubeist? Perhaps you’d prefer to wear a tetrahedron hat instead. (Rainbow colors strictly optional, of course.)
2017 Festival: Janel Thomas, NASA/NOAA and Science Cheerleader
Janel Thomas, NASA/NOAA and Science Cheerleader
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Janel Thomas to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Janel Thomas works for both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a Training and User Liaison for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite RSeries (GOESR) Product Readiness Operations Team. She has also been a member of Science Cheerleader for four years after cheering for the St. Louis University Billikens. Janel studied meterology as an undergraduate, and she has a master’s degree in geography and environmental systems.
2, 4, 6, 8 = Science!
Have you ever thought about physics and engineering principles when watching a cheerleading squad build a pyramid or toss a girl into the air? Understanding the science, technology, engineering, and math inherent in cheerleading gives a new perspective and understanding of cheerleading (and lots of other forces in the world too). Highlights from The Science of Cheerleading, a book created by Darlene Cavalier, founder of Science Cheerleader, will be shared showcasing how science and engineering can be a part of nearly every aspect of our lives; sharing a message of encouragement to follow dreams and challenge stereotypes along with the practicality of scientific pursuits and concepts.
2017 Festival: Travis Sperry, Math Plus Academy
Travis Sperry, Math Plus Academy
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Travis Sperry to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Travis Sperry is the Director of Information Technology for Math Plus Academy, where he works every day to create innovative ways to help teachers deliver amazing mathematics content and inspire students.
2017 Festival: Dr. Raj Shah, Math Plus Academy
Dr. Raj Shah, Math Plus Academy
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Raj Shah to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Raj Shah has always had an affinity for math. His love of math led to a Ph.D. in physics in 1999. In 2008, Shah quit his job at Intel and founded Math Plus Academy, an afterschool STEM enrichment program for kids from 5 to 14 years old. His mission is to introduce kids and adults to the wonders of mathematics. He also contributes his time to Math Teacher Circles, the Julia Robinson Math Festival, and is a charter member of the Global Math Project. He believes that everyone can enjoy math, develop strong number sense, and become a perseverant problem solver.
Exploding Dots: A Preview to Global Math Week 2017
Dr. James Tanton says: “Here is a story that isn’t true. When I was a young child I invented a machine (not true) that was nothing more than a series of boxes that could hold dots. And these dots would, upon certain actions, explode. And with this machine (in this nontrue story) I realized that I could explain true things! I could explain all the mathematics of arithmetic I learnt in grade school (true), all the of the polynomial algebra I was to learn in highschool (true), elements of calculus and number theory I was to learn in university (true), and explore unanswered research questions mathematicians are studying today (also true)!”
Come with pencil and paper in hand, and possibly an extra pair of socks—this lecture will knock yours right off!
UPDATE 4/19/2017: Dr. Raj Shah, a charter member of the Global Math Project and Exploding Dots expert, will give this talk in lieu of Dr. James Tanton, who was unwell and unable to participate in the National Math Festival.
Dr. Raj Shah – Exploding Dots: A Preview to Global Math Week 2017 from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Math for Everyone! Celebration of Mind
Cookie Monster is caught in a cookie conundrum. He needs to eat cookies from several cookie jars as fast as he can. BUT there are some rules. Stop by to explore one of Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival’s most engaging and handson problems. Can you help Cookie Monster eat his cookies as fast as possible?
Business Card Tetrahedra! Celebration of Mind
With billion of business cards printed each year, what are we to do with them all?! Join us for a fun and engaging activity that explores what 3D objects we can construct using business cards!
2017 Festival: Dr. Mark Rosin
Dr. Mark Rosin
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Mark Rosin to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Mark Rosin is a practicing scientist and Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design, New York. He is cofounder of Guerilla Science, with over seven years of production experience, and the winner of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.
Cash Prizes for Everyone!
Cash Prizes for Everyone! is an interactive game show that offers the audience a chance to win big! In front of a large crowd, competitors (drawn randomly from the audience) will be invited to compete against a performing mathematician in one of a number of solved games. Huge prizes offered to anyone who can beat the house!
Oobleck Olympics
Oobleck Olympics is a handson ‘obstacle’ course where contestants slug it out over a range of mathletic hurdles. Small teams will walk, jump, and skip through a (nonNewtonian) water challenge; compete in a honey dipper eggandspoon style race; and shoot smoke rings like William Tell! Competitors will need to mathematically manipulate the forces of nature to win.
2017 Festival: Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman, Bowdoin College
Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman, Bowdoin College
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman uses mathematics within crossdisciplinary research communities to help understand sustainability, climate change, and protecting the health of the planet. Zeeman is a codirector of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, a member of the executive council of the Computational Sustainability Network, and a coleader of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Initiative. She is a professor of Mathematics at Bowdoin College.
Math, Tipping Points, and Planet Earth
Whatever your talents, and whatever your passions, you can use them to help our planet. This is especially true if you enjoy math. In this talk, we’ll explore the mathematics of “tipping points”—dramatic moments when a system suddenly shifts from one state to another—and see how it can help us to understand the Earth’s past and make better decisions for its future.
Climate, Math, Ice Cores, and You: HandsOn Data from Planet Earth
Where do the graphs of past and future climate come from? Come and see inside an ice core, and use math to figure out what Earth’s climate was like thousands of years ago from air bubbles trapped in ice. Explore the dramatic climate shifts of the past, and learn about ways we use math to understand Earth’s present and future climate.
2017 Festival: Dr. Marc Lipsitch, Harvard University
Dr. Marc Lipsitch, Harvard University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Marc Lipsitch to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Marc Lipsitch is Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is an author of more than 200 peerreviewed publications on antimicrobial resistance, mathematical modeling of infectious disease transmission, bacterial and human population genetics, and immunity to Streptococcus pneumoniae. His group produced one of the earliest estimates of transmissibility of the SARS virus in real time in 2003, and provided a key estimate of the transmissibility of 1918 pandemic influenza.
Dr. Lipsitch has provided advice on antimicrobial resistance, SARS, and influenza to the Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Congressional Budget Office, Defense Science Board, several pharmaceutical companies, and the governments of Canada and Mexico.
Measure, Understand, Control: Applications of Mathematics to Zika Virus Disease
This talk will show how mathematical techniques are applied to determine the number of cases that are occurring (harder than you think!), estimate the risk of infection for causing severe outcomes like microcephaly, diagnose patients, and understand the spread of infection in order to control it.
Dr. Marc Lipsitch: Measure, Understand, Control: Applications of Mathematics to Zika Virus Disease from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. Scott Kim
Dr. Scott Kim
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Scott Kim to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Puzzles are to math what stories are to language, says noted puzzle designer, author, and mathematical artist Dr. Scott Kim. His first book, Inversions, introduced the world to ambigrams—words written symmetrically so they read upside down. His mathematical art appears in many math textbooks. His puzzles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Scientific American and Discover, and computer games such as Tetris and Bejeweled. He now designs educational games for abcmouse.com.
Sudoku and Beyond: Create Your Own Mathematical Puzzles
Solving puzzles is a great way to enjoy mathematics. But you don’t have to stop there. Inventing puzzles takes you deeper into the creative side of math, like writing a story deepens your appreciation of literature. In this handson workshop for kids and adults of all ages, master puzzle designer Dr. Scott Kim shows you how to create your own Sudoku puzzle, how to bend the rules to invent new types of puzzles, and how to make your own mathematics by asking new questions.
Puzzle Making! Celebration of Mind
Dr. Scott Kim shows you how to create your own sudoku, geometric, and logic puzzles. No mathematical experience required, but an interest in puzzles is a plus!
2017 Festival: Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony
Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Michael Morgan to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Michael Morgan is Music Director and Conductor of the Oakland Symphony. He is also Artistic Director of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Morgan attended public schools and began conducting at the age of 12. While a senior at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, he was the Apprentice Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He won his first international conducting competition soon afterwards. He has won numerous community service awards, guest conducted many of the country’s premiere orchestras, and has seen the Oakland East Bay Symphony honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) with its Award for Adventurous Programming.
Peace Comes to the Unusual Kingdoms: An Outstanding Mathematical Musical for Children
What would happen if Prokofiev’s classic “Peter and the Wolf” inspired a new narrative orchestral piece about the joy of mathematics? Come find out as the Oakland Symphony’s Maestro Michael Morgan reads aloud this new story to the backdrop of a youth orchestra recording of the musical score. You might be asked to whistle along, or to solve a math puzzle or two!
Reddit “Ask Me Anything”: Dr. Rebecca Goldin on statistics in the media (11/21)
On Monday, November 21 from 12:002:00 p.m. Eastern, 2017 Festival presenter Dr. Rebecca Goldin took questions about statistics and the media at Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” (/r/IAmA) forum. You can view the full Q&A online at Reddit, which is aimed at readers ages 14+.
Dr. Goldin is a professor of mathematics at George Mason University and the director of STATS.org, a project of the nonprofit organization Sense about Statistics, which helps journalist with questions about interpreting statistics in their writing and research.
2017 Festival: Dr. PoShen Loh, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. PoShen Loh, Carnegie Mellon University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. PoShen Loh to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. PoShen Loh is a math enthusiast and evangelist, operating across the entire mathematical spectrum from original research to massmarket education. He is a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he researches topics in combinatorics, probability, and computer science. He also works with the Mathematical Association of America as the national coach of the USA Math Olympiad team. He extends his activity to the global mainstream through the new educational technology platform expii.com, delivering free creative math puzzles and personalized math practice on every Internet device.
Creative Math Insights for the Everyday — Sports and Recreation Edition
What do mathematics and athletics have in common? Math Coach PoShen Loh will share puzzles that illustrate how mathematical thinking can provide new understanding in the athletic world, and vice versa. See how mathematical reasoning can help us make sense out of these thoughtprovoking situations, and experience the surprising and fun nature of mathematics in the process. These insights were accumulated from over a year of mathematical introspection on topics of common interest, and freely published as weekly interactive challenges on expii.com/solve. Several have appeared in features of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and FiveThirtyEight (part of ESPN).
Creative Math Insights for the Everyday — Life Edition
What is the value of mathematics? We’ll share puzzles and paradoxes that arise from the failure of human intuition. See how mathematical reasoning can help us make sense out of these thoughtprovoking situations, and experience the surprising and fun nature of mathematics in the process. You’ll see everyday things in the world in a new mathematical light. These insights were accumulated from over a year of mathematical introspection on topics of common interest, and freely published as weekly interactive challenges on expii.com/solve. Several have appeared in features of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and FiveThirtyEight (part of ESPN).
2017 Festival: Dr. Clifford Stoll
Dr. Clifford Stoll
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Clifford Stoll to the 2017 National Math Festival!
A frequent guest on the YouTube channel Numberphile, Dr. Clifford Stoll is recognizable to a new generation as the man with 1,000 Klein bottles under his house. Stoll drew international attention when he caught a KGB hacker attempting to break into the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory computer system in 1986, one of the first documented hacking incidents in the USA. What followed included legal testimony in Germany, a memoir (The Cuckoo’s Egg), a NOVA documentary, and a scifi short story, to name just a few of many results. Stoll has worn many hats in life—astronomer, teacher, author, maker, TED speaker, Klein bottle salesman—but one thing he’s never been is boring. If you see him, ask him about Jupiter.
Möbius Loops and Klein Bottles, Oh My!
Join Dr. Clifford Stoll, the physicist who keeps 1,000 Klein bottles in the crawl space under his northern California home and uses a miniature forklift robot he built to retrieve them. We can’t say for sure what he’ll talk about. We can safely predict he’ll bring at least a few of his blownglass, mathematically mesmerizing creations courtesy of his company, Acme Klein Bottles. Hint: If you’ve met a Möbius Loop, you’ve met a cousin of the Klein bottle.
2017 Festival: Matt Parker, Queen Mary University of London
Matt Parker, Queen Mary University of London
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Matt Parker to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Matt Parker is a standup comedian and mathematician. He appears regularly on TV and online: as well as being a presenter on the Discovery Channel, his YouTube videos have been viewed over 35 million times. As part of the comedy group Festival of the Spoken Nerd, Parker has toured worldwide and is the first person to use an overhead projector onstage at the Hammersmith Apollo since Pink Floyd. Previously a maths teacher, he visits schools to talk to students about maths as part of Think Maths and he is involved in the Maths Inspiration shows. In his remaining free time, he wrote the book Things To Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension (Penguin, 2014). He is also the Public Engagement in Mathematics Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.
Matt Parker: StandUp Mathematician
Matt Parker is a standup comedian and mathematician. Occasionally simultaneously. In this show he will be combining his joint loves of math and comedy with a talk about some of the most interesting, and entertaining, bits of mathematics he has come across recently. Expect calculations, spreadsheets, and absolutely no dividing by zero.
2017 Festival: Elisabeth Heathfield, Making Math Visible
Elisabeth Heathfield, Making Math Visible
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Elisabeth Heathfield to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Elisabeth Heathfield is a certified teacher and an artist with indepth experience running math workshops at the middle and elementary school levels. For the 20152016 academic year, she was a visiting scholar at Stony Brook University, where she conducted research into early math education. Heathfield is interested in exploring the connections between math and art and how handson construction activities can change children’s mindsets about mathematics. She has created and managed a weekly afterschool STEAM club, as well as community math nights and Celebration of Mind events for Martin Gardner’s birthday. She has given matheducation workshops to teachers at Lakehead University, at the Ontario Association of Math Educators Conference, at the MIT Museum, and various NY City schools. Elisabeth has a B.A. in Visual Art from OCAD University, a B.Ed. from Lakehead University, and an M.A. from Norwich University of Art. She is also a practicing artist whose work has been exhibited in Canada, England, Italy, and the US and has taught fine art classes at various institutions in Ontario.
Giant SOMA Cube Workshop
SOMA is a cubebased geometric puzzle designed by Piet Hein in the 1930s. In this workshop, you will learn about this classic puzzle by constructing individual modules out of wood cubes and solving a progression of problems that lead up to a giant cardboard version. Participants will take home their own handsize wood version for continued play and exploration.
2017 Festival: Dr. Rebecca Goldin, George Mason University
Dr. Rebecca Goldin, George Mason University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Rebecca Goldin to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Rebecca Goldin is a professor of mathematical sciences at George Mason University. Goldin is the director of STATS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan project to analyze and explain numbers and statistics in the news and to promote statistical literacy in the media and society.
Do Video Games Cause Violence? Exploring the Mind with Statistics
Do video games cause violence? The simple answer is, “It’s complicated.” Reports on recent studies assume that a functional brain scan can “measure aggression,” but what does that mean? The human brain is complex. The research is varied and “aggression” can be interpreted differently in different contexts. While the detailed neural mechanisms underlying mental and emotional states remain poorly understood, mathematical and statistical models form the foundation for our incomplete, approximate knowledge on this and many other important, but not yet rigorously defined, social and scientific questions.
Important considerations include issues of research design and quantitative analyses. For example, how do we differentiate between the effects on older versus younger children, or between those on healthy versus vulnerable subpopulations? Acts of violence are often committed by single individuals, yet studies measure effects across wide populations. Basic statistical concepts are helpful to shed light on these and other complex, interesting, and consequential open problems affecting all of us, often yielding intriguing and counterintuitive conclusions.
Dr. Rebecca Goldin – Do Video Games Cause Violence? Exploring the Mind with Statistics from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. Maria Droujkova, Natural Math
Dr. Maria Droujkova, Natural Math
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Maria Droujkova to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Maria Droujkova is a parent, curriculum developer, and mathematics education consultant. Maria brings together leaders in mathematics education, researchers, developers, parents, and teachers for projects and discussions of family mathematics, early algebra, individualized instruction, math games, and math clubs.
A Better Story of Math: Calculus for 5YearOlds, Grief, and Natural Math Adventures
When it comes to children learning mathematics, what are your worries and dreams? What is it all about—what is it really all about? How can your young child play with powerful math such as integrals, fractals, and infinity—and why do so? How can grownups help, if they carry their own math scars? Come for a frank conversation about math making your children strong, creative, and caring. Learn what it takes for children to make their own beautiful, meaningful, and joyful mathematics.
Dr. Maria Droujkova: A Better Story of Math: Calculus for 5YearOlds, Grief, and Natural Math Adventures from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Natural Math Play Date
Come make easy handson crafts, explore puzzles, relax, and observe simple ways to set up math play dates for your family or class. Seek rotational symmetry in snowflakes, make a fractal cat, or play hideandseek with your missing x. Aimed for casual participants ages 3 to 133, the Natural Math collection of activities brings a mathrich lifestyle to any setting, in small bits of wonder.
2017 Festival Schedule Preview!
Immerse yourself in the playful side of math!
Preschoolers will learn programming—with only their own two hands and feet! Teens: Take cybersecurity into your own hands with realdata manipulations. Got your sneakers on? Race to factor in the Flagway™ game; or test your mettle with mathletic challenges in the Oobleck Olympics.
Glimpse how math patterns your life…
From the mathematics of eyesight, to the power of hurricane storm surges, from the inner workings of social networks, to the outer reaches of black holes, from the jazz of physics, to the math behind drag car racing, from the stats on video game violence, to ‘what Google will never know’ about you! These—and many more—juicy lectures are geared at high schoolers and up.
Explore math in every dimension!
Tackle a truly deep, unsolved math problem with Math Pickle; see if you can find the beginning and end of a Klein bottle with Cliff Stoll; make new friends onscreen with Navajo Math Circles. Meet Brady Haran from the YouTube channel Numberphile (and see what he’s filming at the Festival!) Nab a geometric balloon sculpture to wear. Take your picture and join the We♥Math wall, too.
News & Announcements
Learn more about the 2017 Festival, follow our blog posts, or sign up for occasional email updates to keep up with 2017 Festival presenters and announcements.
2017 Festival: Mathical Book Prize
Mathical: Books for Kids from Tots to Teens
The National Math Festival welcomes Mathical: Books for Kids from Tots to Teens to the 2017 Festival!
The Mathical Book Prize is an annual award for fiction and nonfiction books that inspire children of all ages to see math in the world around them. Mathical Award Winners and Honor Books are selected by a nationwide committee of mathematicians, educators, librarians, and authors. Each year’s selections join a growing list of stories ranging from picture books and graphic novels to chapter books and young adult literature.
Mathical Book Prize authors participating in the 2017 Festival include Joan Holub, author of Zero the Hero, and Dr. Christopher Danielson, author of Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book.
The Mathical Book Prize is organized by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). To learn more, visit mathicalbooks.org.
2017 Festival: FIRST^{®}
FIRST^{®} – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes FIRST^{®} to the 2017 National Math Festival!
FIRST^{®} engages kids from kindergarten through high school in exciting, mentorbased research and robotics programs that help them become science and technology leaders. Over 140,000 high school students compete in exciting handson robotics challenges. Learn more at firstinspires.org.
Robotics and the Math Connection
Join high school students from FIRST^{®} teams and their mentors as they explore the math behind building a winning robot. (Meet the robots, too!)
Math and the Holonomic Drive: the Pursuit of a Smooth Ride
FIRST Tech Challenge Team “Hail Hydraulics” of Bristol, Virginia employed a holonomic drive on their robot. A holonomic drive system allows a vehicle to travel in any direction without changing its orientation. When they got to the programming of the robot, they discovered that a holonomic drive was incredibly more complex than anticipated!
Listen closely to a story of surprises—twists, turns, many problems surfaced and solved—as two of their team members, Walker Little and William Barrett, both seniors at Virginia High School, explain the many ins and outs of mathematical discovery the sixperson team encountered in building their 18” robot. (Meet the robot, too!)
Over the past few years, the Hail Hydraulics team has won the Motivate Award, the Parametric Technology Corporation Design Award, and the Control Award in regional robotics competitions. The other team members are Stephen Kusick, Jamie Rector, Wyatt Elliott, and Rachel Locke.
2017 Festival: ThinkFun
ThinkFun
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes ThinkFun to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Children love ThinkFun’s awardwinning games, mobile apps, brainteasers, and logic puzzles, available online and through major retailers in 60 countries worldwide. ThinkFun aims to be the spark that ignites young minds by translating the brilliant ideas of mathematicians, engineers, and inventors into addictively fun educational games that teach 21st century thinking skills and make learning fun – at any age. Learn more at thinkfun.com.
ThinkFun Games! Celebration of Mind
Come play six of ThinkFun’s most mathy puzzle games: Balance Beans demonstrates how mathematical equations can be represented as weights on a scale; Shapeometry is a geometric puzzle that can be solved algebraically; and Chocolate Fix is a logical deduction system in the form of a symbolbased puzzle. Then try our three new coding games… first time these games have ever been shown in public! Play these great games and talk to us about recreational mathematics and computational thinking.
Math Dice Tournament
Come test your mathematical skills at ThinkFun’s mini Math Dice Tournament Competition! Our experts will get you quickly signed in and trained up, then it’s flat out calculating in the most clever and fun mathematical game challenge you will ever play.
2017 Festival: Dr. Stephon Alexander, Brown University
Dr. Stephon Alexander, Brown University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Stephon Alexander to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Physicist and musician Stephon Alexander has straddled the two worlds of theoretical physics and jazz music over the last two decades. He obtained his doctorate from Brown University and was a research physicist at Imperial College, London and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University. On the physics front, Alexander works on the connection between the smallest and largest entities in the universe pushing Einstein’s theory of curved spacetime to extremes, beyond the big bang with sub atomic phenomena.
Alexander is a specialist in the field of string cosmology, where the physics of superstrings are applied to address longstanding questions in cosmology. In 2001, he coinvented the model of inflation based on higher dimensional hypersurfaces in string theory called DBranes. In such models the early universe emerged from the destruction of a higher dimensional Dbrane which ignites a period of rapid expansion of space often referred to as cosmic inflation. Learn more at stephonalexander.org.
The Jazz of Physics
Join physicist and musician Dr. Stephon Alexander as he shares his personal journey as both cosmologist and jazz performer. You won’t want to miss his jazz saxophone solo, either! His recent book The Jazz of Physics—full of provocative, impressionistic vignettes—explores how physics and music are interwoven both in his own life story and in the way the universe works.
Dr. Stephon Alexander – The Jazz of Physics from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Young People’s Project
Young People’s Project
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Young People’s Project to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The Young People’s Project (YPP) uses Math Literacy Work to develop the abilities of elementary through high school students to succeed in school and in life, and in doing so involves them in efforts to eliminate institutional obstacles to their success. The YPP envisions a day when every young person — regardless of ethnicity, gender, or class — has access to a highquality education and the skills, attributes, and the community support s/he needs to successfully meet the challenges of their generation. Learn more at typp.org.
Young People’s Project: Flagway Games
Combine speed, athleticism, and precision with mastery of mathematics as you play the Flagway™ Game with us! Invented and patented by Robert Moses, the Flagway™ Game is based on the Möbius Function, which categorizes the natural numbers into three mutually exclusive categories. Flagway™ has the same elements that most sports have: running, scoring points, teamwork, coaching, training, competition, collaboration, and fun. Because of this, people of all ages are naturally attracted to the game. High school students, trained as coaches, will help players shine, regardless of their previous experience!
Flagway Tournament
Come cheer your favorite ‘hometown’ team of 5th and 6th graders from around the U.S. and Ireland who will participate in a friendly twohour competition, coached by high school students trained as Math Literacy workers! Regions sending teams include Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Alton, IL, Jackson, MS, Miami, FL, and the Republic of Ireland.
2017 Festival: Science Cheerleader
Science Cheerleader
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Science Cheerleader to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Science Cheerleader is an organization of more than 200 current and former professional cheerleaders from the NFL, NBA, and other pro sports leagues, who are pursuing science and engineering careers. The Cheerleaders use their personal stories to playfully challenge stereotypes, encourage participation in citizen science activities, and inspire young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more at sciencecheerleader.com.
Math Cheer Clinic
Join Science Cheerleader for a Math Cheer Clinic, where you can learn from the best: professional cheerleaders with advanced degrees in math! Create your own mathinspired cheers to get National Math Festival attendees on their feet.
2017 Festival: Natural Math
Natural Math
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Natural Math to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Natural Math is an international community that creates rich, playful, and meaningful mathematical experiences for everybody from toddlers to grownups. Everything starts with math stories and math adventures! Snowflakes are examples of fractals and an invitation to explore symmetry. Sliced fruit illustrates integrals and derivatives. Floor tiles form beautiful tessellations. Natural Math helps to organize math circles, publishes books, offers online courses, and addresses parents’ questions in an online forum. Learn more at naturalmath.com.
Natural Math: Handson Advanced Adventures for the Five and Younger Crowd
Can you program algorithms without a computer? Can you learn calculus before you learn to tie your shoes? Where is algebraic geometry in paper snowflakes? Join the volunteers at Natural Math to play with accessible, joyful, beautiful activities! The seven principles of Natural Math are adventure, openness, “yes, and” (acceptance, from improv), abundance, bridges, and easy complexity.
Scavenger Hunt
Grow your math eyes! Catch them all: cute, funny, beautiful pieces of rich math hiding in plain sight, all around. Play with wild topology, make leaps of logic, and take calculus to infinity and beyond.
2017 Festival: Welcoming our new key partner, the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)!
MoMath joins National Math Festival
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is delighted to share some big news: the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) will join the Institute for Advanced Study as a key partner of MSRI in organizing the 2017 National Math Festival!
The National Museum of Mathematics, located in Manhattan, New York, strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics. Its dynamic exhibits and programs stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics.
MoMath participated in the 2015 National Math Festival with a wide variety of programming including its popular Math Midway interactive mathematics exhibit.
2017 Festival: Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation
Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation back to the 2017 Festival!
The Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation, located in Oakland, California, is devoted to furthering the mathematical sciences, from the most advanced research to the playful and inspired inventions of amateurs.
Dots and Boxes! Amazons! Celebration of Mind
Do you love games that are simple to learn, and challenging to master? Test your strategic skills in the classic Dots and Boxes game. Settle in to play Amazons, a modern chessboard game using traditional chess pieces in novel ways!
2017 Festival: Gathering 4 Gardner
Gathering 4 Gardner
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Gathering 4 Gardner to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation works to honor the achievements of Martin Gardner by promoting the lucid exposition of new and accessible ideas in recreational mathematics, magic, puzzles, and philosophy, as well as encouraging further creative work in these areas by enthusiasts of all ages.
Magic, Math, and Puzzles! Celebration of Mind
Come visit G4G for some mathematical magic, puzzle play, or “mathemagical” paper activities that you can take home to share with your friends and family! Gathering 4 Gardner (G4G) Foundation works to honor the legacy of mathematics popularizer Martin Gardner by promoting accessible ideas in recreational math, magic, and puzzles, as well as encouraging further creative work in these areas by enthusiasts of all ages.
Impromptu Magic and Math: Learn Stunts to Dazzle your Friends and Family!
Magician Mark Mitton and educator Dr. James Gardner will teach you magic tricks, puzzles, and mathematical curiosities from the writings of the legendary Martin Gardner. Join us as they share secrets to feats that you can perform with everyday objects, anywhere and anytime! Playing with surprise is a great way to prepare for and consider the wonders of math. This is a dynamic workshop with lots of fun for the whole family.
The Art of Misdirection
Join professional magician Mark Mitton for math, magic, and fun — by way of misdirection!
Mathematical Card Magic! Celebration of Mind
You can learn a lot of math, and have a lot of fun, with a simple deck of cards. Dr. Colm Mulcahy will demonstrate and teach half a dozen entertaining card tricks that work by themselves, with no sleight of hand, because of underlying *mathemagical* principles. Algebra, combinations, and probability are just some of type of math that make this mixture of classic and new effects work.
2017 Festival: Dr. Talea L. Mayo, University of Central Florida
Dr. Talea L. Mayo, University of Central Florida
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Talea L. Mayo to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Talea L. Mayo is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. She specializes in coastal ocean modeling, with special interests in hurricane storm surge modeling, flood risk assessment, and the development of mathematical methods of improving models using data.
When Will I Ever Use This: How Scientists Use Math to Model and Understand Hurricane Storm Surges
Major hurricanes such as Katrina (2005), Sandy (2012), and Irene (2011) can have devastating impacts, whether we experience the storms firsthand, have family members who are affected, or are simply exposed to them through media coverage. Come explore how math can be used to understand the world around us, through forecasting, modeling, and risk assessment of hurricane storm surges.
Dr. Talea L. Mayo – When Will I Ever Use This: How Scientists Use Math to Model and Understand Hurricane Storm Surges from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Not Your Average Mathematician
Talea Mayo grew up watching the TV show Matlock and always thought she’d be a lawyer. However, she also always really enjoyed math. It was challenging for her, but as with anything, she got better the more she practiced. She grew to love the subject and later realized the similarities between math problems and the logical arguments required in law. She wanted to make an impact on society with her career, and eventually found that through mathematics she could do that too! Come to this talk to understand how!
Dr. Talea L. Mayo – Not Your Average Mathematician from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. George Hart, Bridges Organization
Dr. George Hart, Bridges Organization
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. George Hart of the Bridges Organization back to the 2017 Festival!
Whether he is slicing a bagel into two linked halves or leading hundreds of participants in a barnraising for an intricate geometric sculpture, Dr. George Hart always finds an original way to share the beauty of mathematical thinking. An interdepartmental research professor at Stony Brook University, he holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Hart is an organizer of the annual conference, Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science and the editor for sculpture for the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. His research explores innovative ways to use computer technology in the design and fabrication of his artwork, which has been exhibited widely around the world. Hart cofounded the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City and developed its initial set of handson exhibits. He makes videos that show the fun and creative sides of mathematics. Learn more at Making Math Visible or georgehart.com.
Making Math Visible
Dr. Hart will show you a series of beautiful mathematical objects you can construct for yourself. Each illustrates interesting aspects of logical and geometric thinking. Assemble them all together to create your own personal museum of mathematics.
Dr. George Hart – Making Math Visible from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Geometric Sculpture Assembly
Join mathematical artist Dr. George Hart to assemble a giant geometric sculpture that illustrates some fun and creative aspects of mathematics.
Curator’s Tour — Math Art Exhibit
Take a tour with the curator of artworks selected to show a wide range of media and mathematical ideas. Don’t miss this chance to see prints, sculpture, fiber arts, 3D prints, carved stone, and ceramics by some of the most creative mathinspired artists in the world.
2017 Festival: Dr. Herbert Ginsburg, Columbia University
Dr. Herbert Ginsburg, Teachers College, Columbia University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Herbert Ginsburg of the Teachers College at Columbia University back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Herbert Ginsburg is the Jacob H. Schiff Foundations Professor of Psychology & Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has conducted basic research on the development of mathematical thinking, with particular attention to young children, disadvantaged populations, and cultural similarities and differences. He has drawn on contemporary research to create mathematics activities (Big Math for Little Kids) and storybooks for young children, tests of mathematical thinking, and video workshops to enhance teachers’ understanding of students’ mathematics learning. He is now developing materials designed to help teachers and parents engage in mathematical book reading with their children.
How to Find Good Math Storybooks and Read Them with Your Children
Good math storybooks for young children have several essential characteristics, ranging from artistic merit to the seamless integration of mathematical ideas, plot, and illustrations. This session will review and illustrate these important features. Then the session will examine ways to stimulate mathematical interest, thinking, and learning, as adult and child read from both explicit math and ordinary (nonexplicit math) storybooks.
Dr. Herbert Ginsburg – How to Find Good Math Storybooks and Read Them with Your Children from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
EBook Math Storytime for Preschoolers
Parents will have a chance to read some new interactive math storybooks on touchscreen tablets with their children. Members of our team will be available to guide the reading with techniques that parents will find valuable at home.
2017 Festival: Paul Giganti, California Math Festival Program
Paul Giganti, California Math Festival Program
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Paul Giganti of the California Math Festival Program to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Paul Giganti is the former Director of the Bay Area Mathematics Project at the University of California, Berkeley (now retired) where he worked with K12 educators, parents, and families in improving mathematics instruction, curriculum, and assessment for all students. Prior to his work at UC Berkeley, Giganti was an elementary and mathematics classroom teacher of all grades, kindergarten through eighth. He has been actively involved in professional organizations that support mathematics educators, and is a past president of the California Mathematics Council. Giganti directs the California Math Festival Program, a handson activitybased program for K8 students, teachers, and families. He also authors children’s literature books with mathematics themes.
Handson Geometry Festival for All Ages! Presented by the California Math Festival Program
Join us for a handson, problemsolving fair—California Math Festival style! Everybody in your family from grandma to little brother can experience a dozen exciting geometry activities. You don’t have to watch; you’ll find problems that are just right for you! Come have fun doing math with your whole family.
2017 Festival: Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, Institute for Advanced Study
Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, Institute for Advanced Study
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf of the Institute for Advanced Study to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is a mathematical physicist who has made significant contributions to string theory and the advancement of science education. Dijkgraaf is President of the InterAcademy Partnership, past President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a distinguished public policy adviser and advocate for science and the arts.
The End of Space and Time: The Mathematics of Black Holes and the Big Bang
Einstein showed more than a century ago how his theory of relativity captures gravity and the evolution of the cosmos in the geometry of space and time. However these laws of the universe break down at the frontiers of science: at the Big Bang, where time begins, and inside black holes, where time stops. New mathematical ideas about quantum geometry suggest a structure even more fundamental than space and time.
Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf – The End of Space and Time: The Mathematics of Black Holes and the Big Bang from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. Alissa S. Crans, Loyola Marymount University
Dr. Alissa S. Crans, Loyola Marymount University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Alissa S. Crans back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Alissa S. Crans has been recognized nationally for her enthusiastic ability to share and communicate mathematics, having been honored with the Hasse Prize for expository writing on mathematics, as well as with the 2011 Henry L. Alder Award for distinguished teaching by a beginning college or university mathematics faculty member. A presenter at the first National Math Festival in 2015, Crans has also been invited to speak at MoMath and in various lecture series including the MAA Distinguished Lecture and George Kitchen Memorial Lecture, as well as at numerous mathematical days for undergraduates. She is known for her active mentoring and support of women and underrepresented students and is dedicated to helping all students increase their appreciation and enthusiasm for the discipline. She proselytizes about math in settings that range from the public library to “Nerd Night” to public school classrooms. She is Professor of Mathematics at Loyola Marymount University, where her research interests lie in the field of higherdimensional algebra and are currently supported by a Simons Foundation Collaboration Grant.
Patterns + Women = Figures in Mathematics
How many mathematicians can you name? How many female mathematicians were on your list? Come be introduced to Grace Chisholm Young, a prominent female mathematician known for the mathematics textbooks for children she coauthored with her husband. Together, we’ll discover an equation in their book about geometry, known as “Euler’s Formula,” that relates the number of vertices, edges, and faces of a given polyhedron. Note: This workshop is for middle and high school girls and their accompanying adults.
Dr. Alissa Crans – Patterns + Women = Figures in Mathematics from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
A Surreptitious Sequence: The Catalan Numbers
Many of us are familiar with famous sequences of numbers such as the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, …, perfect squares 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, …, Fibonacci sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, … ,or the triangular numbers 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, … But what about the sequence 1, 1, 2, 5, 14, …? First described by Euler in the 1700s and made famous by Belgian mathematician Eugene Catalan 100 years later, these “Catalan numbers” take on a variety of different guises as they provide the solution to numerous problems throughout mathematics.
Dr. Alissa S. Crans – A Surreptitious Sequence: The Catalan Numbers from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
2017 Festival: Dr. Mariel Vazquez, University of California, Davis
Dr. Mariel Vazquez, University of California, Davis
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Mariel Vazquez of the University of California, Davis to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Mariel Vazquez works to explain mathematically the way DNA strands are knotted, among other tricky problems. She is CAMPOS Professor of Mathematics, Microbiology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis. While a postdoctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, she received an Exxon Mobil Project NExT Fellowship. She has been named the 2016 BlackwellTapia Prize honoree, the 2014 Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a 2012 recipient of the US Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and a 2011 National Science Foundation CAREER awardee.
Connections and Reconnections: A Link Between Mathematics, Physics, and DNA
What does an airplane in flight have in common with the way DNA recombines? Both are examples of modeling reconnection events, which are common in biology, but also in fluid dynamics. DNA rearrangements also arise from radiation damage or in cancer. In both cases scientists use a combination of tools from pure math, computer simulations and visualization, and statistics to analyze experimental data. Dr. Vazquez shares a window into her research, which points the way toward new understandings of our own inner workings.
2017 Festival: Dr. Marcus du Sautoy, University of Oxford
Dr. Marcus du Sautoy, University of Oxford
The National Math Festival welcomes Dr. Marcus du Sautoy to the 2017 Festival!
Dr. Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. His many honors include the Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society awarded for the best mathematical research made by a mathematician under 40 and the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize, the UK’s premier award for excellence in communicating science. In 2004 Esquire Magazine chose him as one of the 100 most influential people under 40 in Britain.
His book The Music of the Primes won two major prizes in Italy and Germany for the best popular science book of the year. du Sautoy writes for the Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, and the Guardian and is frequently asked for comment on BBC radio and television. For several years he had a regular column in the Times called Sexy Science. He has written and performed widely across radio, television, orchestra, and the stage.
The Math of Art and the Art of Math
From composers to painters, writers to choreographers, the mathematician’s palette of shapes, patterns, and numbers has proved a powerful inspiration. Artists can be subconsciously drawn to the same structures that fascinate mathematicians as they hunt for interesting new structures to frame their creative process. Dr. du Sautoy will explore the hidden mathematical ideas that underpin the creative output of wellknown artists and reveal that the work of the mathematician is also driven by strong aesthetic values.
Dr. Marcus du Sautoy – The Math of Art and Art of Math from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Print & Play Hexaflexagon Puzzle!
If you missed the National Math Festival booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival on April 1416, you can still join the fun at home with our tricky hexaflexagon puzzle!
This puzzle requires a color printer, scissors, and a glue stick. Younger kids may need an adult’s help to cut and follow assembly instructions.
Download puzzle with instructions (PDF)
View stepbystep photo instructions
Can you figure out how to flip this puzzle so that you can see the other sides? Share your results with us on Twitter or Instagram with #wemath!
To learn how you can make your own hexaflexagon designs, check out Vi Hart’s video on the subject!
National Math Festival at the USA Science and Engineering Festival – April 1517, 2016
The National Math Festival is at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. April 1517, 2016. You can stop by our booth, located in the Math and Computer Science section in Hall A/B/C, to try constructing a hexaflexagon puzzle, meet a great friend of the Mathematical Science Research Institute, Cliff Stohl himself, and take part in our geometric balloon twisting. We’ll be sharing photos and video all weekend on Twitter and Instagram with #wemath, and on our Facebook page, too!
At Thursday’s XSTEM Symposium, our MSRI staff member Kirsten ran into Dr. George Hart of the Bridges Organization and Dr. Richard Tapia, both 2015 Festival presenters who will be back for 2017!
2017 Festival: The Bridges Organization
The Bridges Organization
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes The Bridges Organization back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
The Bridges Organization inspires creativity at the intersection between mathematics and the visual and performing arts. Launched in 1998 as an international conference entitled, “Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science,” and hosted annually since that year, the Bridges conference is the largest interdisciplinary conference in mathematics and the arts in the world. Outside the conference setting, the Bridges Organization focuses on innovative and integrative outreach that promotes interdisciplinary work in the fields of mathematics and art. Learn more at bridgesmathart.org.
MathArt Exhibit
Who knew math could be so inspirational, or patterns so beautiful? Come be surprised by the way artists use math, and mathematicians use art, to make a statement about the universe.
Platonic Paper Folding
Fold and assemble a Platonic solid – your choice of a dodecahedron (12 sides) or icosahedron (20 sides). Whether you choose to wear it, decorate with it, or give it to a friend is up to you!
2017 Festival: Dr. Richard Tapia, Rice University
Dr. Richard Tapia, Rice University
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Richard Tapia back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
A recipient of the National Medal of Science, Dr. Richard Tapia is a mathematician in Rice University’s Computational and Applied Mathematics Department. In 1992, Tapia was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the first Hispanic to receive this honor. Two professional conferences have been named in his honor: the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference and the BlackwellTapia Mathematics Conference. Tapia served on the National Science Board from 1996 to 2002.
Math at Top Speed
What’s the math behind drag car racing? Starting with a bit of history, we’ll then turn to identifying elementary mathematical frameworks to study popular drag racing beliefs. Tapia will explain why dragster acceleration is greater than the acceleration due to gravity, an ageold inconsistency.
2017 Festival: Cash Prizes for Everyone!
Cash Prizes for Everyone!
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Cash Prizes for Everyone! as a featured event at the 2017 National Math Festival!
Cash Prizes for Everyone! is an interactive gameshow that offers the audience a chance to win big! In front of a large crowd, competitors (drawn randomly from the audience) will be invited to compete against a performing mathematician in one of a number of solved games. Huge prizes offered to anyone who can beat the house!
2017 Festival: Oobleck Olympics!
Oobleck Olympics obstacle course
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute is delighted to announce that the Oobleck Olympics will be a featured event at the 2017 National Math Festival!
The Oobleck Olympics is a handson ‘obstacle’ course where contestants slug it out over a range of mathletic hurdles. Small teams will walk, jump, and skip through a (nonNewtonian) water challenge; compete in a honey dipper eggandspoon style race; and shoot smoke rings like William Tell! Competitors will need to mathematically manipulate the forces of nature to win.
2017 Festival: Geometric Balloon Bending
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute is delighted to announce that Geometric Balloon Bending will be a featured event at the 2017 National Math Festival!
2017 Festival: Origami
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute is delighted to announce that Origami will be a featured event at the 2017 National Math Festival!
365 Days of Math with AMS, AWM, MAA, and SIAM!
The National Math Festival is a oneday free event in the heart of our nation’s capital on Saturday, April 22, 2017. But why stop there?
Math is everywhere, and the National Math Festival is excited to share the fun with four of the nation’s premiere national math organizations: the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).
With so many math lovers joining forces, we want to celebrate the fun, power, and beauty of mathematics together – not just at the National Math Festival, but in our everyday lives and online, too! We’ve put together a selection of games, puzzles, books, and videos in this site’s More Math! section. And when you see math around you in the world, please tell us using #wemath on Twitter or Instagram! We want to hear about your discoveries and share them with the world.
2017 Festival: American Mathematical Society (AMS)
American Mathematical Society (AMS)
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the American Mathematical Society back to the 2017 National Math Festival!
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is an association of professional mathematicians who have been serving the national and international communities since the society was founded in 1888. Its goals are to further the interests of mathematical research and scholarship and to educate through publications, meetings, advocacy and other programs that promote mathematical research. The society encourages and facilitates the transmission of mathematical understanding and skills, supports mathematical education at all levels, and advances the status of the profession by fostering an appreciation of the way mathematics connects to other disciplines and everyday life.
Who Wants to Be a Mathematician?
In the American Mathematical Society contest Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, area high school students will compete by answering multiple choice mathematics questions in a competitive and entertaining quiz show format. The top prize is $3,000!
2017 Festival: NOVA and NOVA Labs
NOVA and NOVA Labs
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes NOVA and NOVA Labs back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
NOVA is the mostwatched prime time science series on American television, reaching an average of five million viewers weekly. Now in its fourth decade of production, the series remains committed to producing indepth science programming in the form of onehour documentaries and longform miniseries, from the latest breakthroughs in technology to the deepest mysteries of the natural world.
NOVA Labs is a free digital platform that engages teens and lifelong learners in activities and games that foster authentic scientific exploration. Each lab focuses on a different area of active research, but all of them illustrate key concepts with engaging and informative videos, and guide participants through activities and games that encourage citizen science.
Real Science, Real Data, You: Scientific Exploration with NOVA Labs Games
Come take part in realworld investigations by visualizing, analyzing, and playing with the same data that scientists use. NOVA Labs is a free digital platform where teens can actively participate in the scientific process, from predicting solar storms and designing renewable energy systems to tracking cloud movements and learning cyber security strategies.
The Origami Revolution
The centuriesold tradition of folding twodimensional paper into threedimensional shapes is inspiring a scientific revolution. The rules of folding are at the heart of many natural phenomena, from how leaves blossom to how beetles fly. But now, engineers and designers are applying its principles to reshape the world around us—and even within us, designing new drugs, microrobots, and future space missions. With this burgeoning field of origamiinspireddesign, the question is: can the mathematics of origami be boiled down to one elegant algorithm—a failproof guidebook to make any object out of a flat surface, just by folding? And if so, what would that mean for the future of design? Explore the hightech future of this ageold art as NOVA unfolds The Origami Revolution.
2017 Festival: First 8 Studios at WBGH
First 8 Studios at WBGH
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes First 8 Studios at WGBH back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
The WGBH Educational Foundation has pioneered children’s educational media for decades. First 8 Studios at WGBH is dedicated to carrying this pioneering spirit into the digital, mobile world. First 8 Studios builds and researches new learning experiences for children from birth through age 8, their parents, and their teachers.
Early Math Learning with Technology: Gracie & Friends Apps and Activities
Share the joy of early math learning with your preschoolers while playing the Gracie & Friends apps and activities! With brand new iPad apps to strengthen spatial thinking skills and apps for subitizing (perceiving at a glance the number of items) and equipartitioning (dividing groups into equal subgroups), Gracie & Friends will bring the delight of math to your little ones. First 8 Studios at WGBH showcases public media’s pioneering research and development on how to best use tablet technology for early math learning. (Tablets provided!)
2017 Festival: Brady Haran, Numberphile
Brady Haran, Numberphile
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Brady Haran of Numberphile to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Brady Haran is a UKbased video journalist and filmmaker, and the creator of YouTube’s most popular informal math channel, Numberphile (supported by MSRI, with over 200 million views), as well as many other popular sciencethemed YouTube channels, including Periodic Videos (chemistry), Sixty Symbols (physics), and Objectivity (cool objects).
Brady also finds the time to record the popular Hello Internet podcast with fellow YouTube creator C.G.P. Grey, selected by Apple as one of the best new podcasts of 2014. For more about Brady’s projects, visit bradyharan.com.
Brady Haran: In Conversation with Matt Parker
Join YouTube’s Numberphile filmmaker Brady Haran in conversation with “standup mathematician” Matt Parker.
Brady Haran: In Conversation with Dr. Cliff Stoll
Join Numberphile filmmaker Brady Haran in conversation with physicist and Klein bottle maker Dr. Cliff Stoll.
Meet Brady Haran of YouTube’s Numberphile
Join Numberphile filmmaker Brady Haran for casual conversation (and brownpaper autographs!).
2017 Festival: Dr. James Tanton, Mathematical Association of America
Dr. James Tanton, Mathematical Association of America
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. James Tanton to the 2017 National Math Festival!
James Tanton (PhD, Princeton 1994, mathematics) is an education consultant and an ambassador for the Mathematical Association of America in Washington D.C., currently serving as their MathematicianatLarge. He has taught mathematics both at university and highschool institutions. Tanton is absolutely committed to sharing joyful and beautiful mathematical thinking and doing with all. He writes books and articles, he advises on curriculum, he consults with teachers and gives demonstration classes across the globe, he designs and teaches graduate education courses, he gives public outreach lectures, and he works with students of all ages and backgrounds to experience the wonder of mathematics. See his sites at jamestanton.com and gdaymath.com and the Global Math Week site for more.
Exploding Dots: A Preview to Global Math Week 2017
Dr. James Tanton says: “Here is a story that isn’t true. When I was a young child I invented a machine (not true) that was nothing more than a series of boxes that could hold dots. And these dots would, upon certain actions, explode. And with this machine (in this nontrue story) I realized that I could explain true things! I could explain all the mathematics of arithmetic I learnt in grade school (true), all the of the polynomial algebra I was to learn in highschool (true), elements of calculus and number theory I was to learn in university (true), and explore unanswered research questions mathematicians are studying today (also true)!”
Come with pencil and paper in hand, and possibly an extra pair of socks—this lecture will knock yours right off!
UPDATE 4/19/2017: Dr. Raj Shah, a charter member of the Global Math Project and Exploding Dots expert, presented this talk in lieu of Dr. James Tanton, who was unwell and unable to participate in the National Math Festival.
2017 Festival: Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival
Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival back for the 2017 National Math Festival!
Julia Robinson Mathematics Festivals inspire students to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through activities that encourage collaborative, creative problem solving. Festivals are held around the country at different times throughout the year. See jrmf.org for upcoming events near you!
Julia Robinson Math Festival Presents: A Celebration of Mind
Explore unsolved math problems and get stumped by expert puzzlemakers. Help Cookie Monster solve his eating dilemmas with Math Plus Academy. Math for Love will guide you through problems using laser beams for billiard balls. Immerse yourself in ThinkFun games such as Shapeometry and Balance Beans.
We’ll present a wide range of intriguing problems, puzzles, and games to share the joy of math with students of all ages. Participants can select a problem they find interesting, and work together with their friends or helpful adults to discover a solution — or unexpected results.
Younger kids may find themselves drawn to such handson activities as Space Chips and Chocolate Fix, while older students may enjoy being challenged to solve sudoku squares, or to explore Mondrian art puzzles. Enjoy the classics? Game lovers of all ages can learn the Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation’s best strategies to play Dots and Boxes or the game of Amazons!
 Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation: Dots and Boxes! Amazons!
 Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation: Magic, Math, and Puzzles! featuring Mark Mitton and Dr. James Gardner and Dr. Colm Mulcahy
 Dr. Scott Kim: Puzzle Making
 Math for Love: Billiard Balls and Laser Beams
 MathPickle: Santorini and Jumping Frogs
 Dr. Raj Shah: Math for Everyone
 ThinkFun Games
 Travis Sperry: Business Card Tetrahedra
2017 Festival: Dr. Stephanie Palmer, University of Chicago
Dr. Stephanie Palmer, University of Chicago
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute welcomes Dr. Stephanie Palmer of the University of Chicago to the 2017 National Math Festival!
Dr. Stephanie Palmer studies learning behaviors in both animals and humans. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. She has a PhD in theoretical physics from Oxford University, and works on questions at the interface of neuroscience and statistical physics. Her recent work explores the question of how the visual system processes incoming information, to make fast and accurate predictions about the future positions of moving objects in the environment. Since her undergraduate years at Michigan State University, she has been teaching chemistry, physics, math, and biology to a wide range of students. At the University of Chicago, she founded and runs the Brains! Program, which brings local middle school students to her lab to learn handson neuroscience.
Great Vision from Crummy Optics: How Do Your Eyes Do It?
Every day we look at the world through fickle, misshapen instruments – our eyes. Explore the math behind how your brain makes sense of these crummy pictures. Dr. Palmer will show you the basics of how vision works, revealing connections to everything from evolution to code breaking. Come see your eyes in a new light!
Dr. Stephanie Palmer: Great Vision from Crummy Optics: How Do Your Eyes Do It? from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.
Image Credits
Images are used with permission from the source, or under appropriate licensing (such as Creative Commons licenses or public domain) If you own an image used on this site and wish to request removal, please contact Jennifer Murawski, MSRI Communications and Events Coordinator, at mathfestival@msri.org.
Rubik’s Cube
Credit: Gerd Altmann
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Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art
Credit: Dimitry B. / ru_boff (Flickr)
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Smithsonian Parterre
Credit: Eric Long, Smithsonian Institution photographer
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Modeling the Melt
Credit: NASA photograph by Kathryn Hansen
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How Not to Be Wrong
Credit: Albert Yau
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A Voyage That Will Forever Change Your Perspective of Home
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
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Archimedes: Superhero of the Mathematical World
Credit: Mechanics Magazine (1824)
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Very Small Sea Creatures
Credit: NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Microphotograph taken by G. Carter, April 2000
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The Math Behind Minecraft
Credit: MinecraftEDU
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The Math and Science of Getting in Sync
Credit: Mike Lewinski (Flickr)
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Math at Top Speed
Credit: Dr. Richard Tapia
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The Fair Lane Assignment Problem in BMX Bicycle Racing
Credit: Brady Haran, Numberphile
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Gracie and Friends apps
Credit: First 8 Studios at WGBH
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Catalan Numbers
Credit:
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Cosmic Shadows and the Fifth Dimension
Credit: XMMNewton, ESA, NASA
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