2020-2021 Schedule

The National Math Festival brings together some of the most fascinating mathematicians of our time to inspire and challenge participants of all ages to see math in new and exciting ways. The 2021 Festival will feature juicy talks, hands-on demos, art, films, performances, puzzles, games, children’s book readings, and more for all ages.

Events will take place online beginning in December 2020, with a concentration of live, interactive online events during the Festival weekend, April 16-18, 2021. See below for the schedule.

All events are free and open to the public. View all past 2021 Festival events, with recordings when available.

2020 – 2021 National Math Festival: Upcoming Events

Wednesday, January 27
1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

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Witches of Agnesi Play Performance: Live Streaming and Panel Discussion

  • Dr. Susan Gerofsky, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Moira Chas, Stony Brook University
  • Dr. Nancy Scherich, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Shelly Jones, Central Connecticut State University

Tuesday, February 9
1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

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Mathical Book Prize 2021 Winners Announcement

Featuring book readings with Mathical award-winning authors

Tuesday, February 16
1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

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What’s the Big Idea: A Game Show Featuring Students and Mathematicians

Wednesday, March 17
1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

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Believe-It-Or-Not, It’s Math (x2):

2021 Live Online National Math Festival Weekend

Friday, April 16 – Sunday, April 20

Registration begins January 2021


Dozens of simultaneous, hands-on, interactive mathy activities by major math organizations, designed for all ages from very young children through adults


Booths to browse for live, on-camera chats with math fun experts from leading math organizations; you can pick up tips, kits, and resources for play at home

2021 Festival: Activities


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Room hosts film panels & screenings for The Bit Player, Hidden Figures, Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani, The Man Who Knew Infinity, NOVA Highlights, and the NSF “We Are Mathematics” Short Film Contest Winners.

2021 Festival: Film Events


Playful, insightful, and provocative math talks by some of today’s most fascinating mathematicians. These talks are by some of today’s best math “explainers” so all math backgrounds and experiences are welcome.

Changing the “Face” of Mathematics

In 2017, Dr. Erica Graham, Dr. Reagan Higgins, Dr. Candice Price, and Dr. Shelby Wilson and launched the website Mathematically Gifted and Black (MGB). MGB is a website to celebrate the diversity of Black mathematicians, highlighting their contributions to the mathematical sciences and community. The MGB founders will talk about the inspiration behind this website, discuss some of the profiles, and describe the impacts of this initiative.

Changing the Face of Mathematics
The End of Space and Time: The Mathematics of Black Holes and the Big Bang
Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, Institute for Advanced Study (IAS)

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.

Robbert Dijkgraaf

Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus
Dr. Steven Strogatz, Cornell University

Everyone has heard of calculus, but why is it so important? In this talk, Dr. Strogatz will try to clarify the fantastic idea at the heart of calculus. With the help of pictures and stories, he’ll trace where calculus came from and then show how it – in partnership with medicine, philosophy, science, and technology – reshaped the course of civilization and helped make the world modern. This talk is intended for everyone, whether you’ve taken calculus or not, and whether you like math or not. By the end, he hopes to convince you that calculus is one of the greatest triumphs of human creativity ever.

Steven Strogatz

Math and the Movies
Dr. Joseph Teran, University of California, Los Angeles

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!

Joseph Teran
Math Is Play!
Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence, University of San Francisco

My love for mathematics is rooted in my childhood love of playing games and puzzles. In fact as I learned more math, the game play didn’t stop. Mathematics can be found in popular games such as Rubik’s cubes, Chess, Sudoku, Poker, and countless others. I hope to introduce you to some of my favorite games and explore the mathematics behind them, including winning strategies (if they exist!).

Emille Davie Lawrence

Numbers through Pictures: A Taste of the Geometry of Numbers
Dr. Jesús De Loera, University of California, Davis

Everyone who has studied high-school mathematics has learned about numbers, equations, and a little bit of geometry. But what is the most important topic in mathematics? Is it all about numbers? Is it about equations? Is it about shapes and forms? Well, it is about all of them!

Modern research in mathematics, combines the study of numbers, with the study of shapes and equations. In this lecture, Dr. De Loera will introduce the audience to Minkowski’s Geometry of Numbers. He will present some problems connecting whole numbers and familiar geometric shapes such as lines, circles, polygons. It should be understandable to a very broad audience that likes mathematics.

Jesus de Loera

Past Events

Tuesday, January 12
1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

Math Rap (Double Feature)

Math Concert with the Music Notes (Starting at 01:41)

Math + Rap = Fun for the whole family! Join LaMar “Mr. Q-U-E” Queen and David “Mr. D” Landix for a math concert like you’ve never seen before. These teachers from Los Angeles, CA combine math and music to show that math is cool. Just don’t be surprised when you start dancing and singing along!

Hip Hop Math with Professor Lyrical (Starting at 21:23)

Professor Lyrical, a mathematics professor who is also a rapper, will demonstrate through performing, speaking and crowd participation how making rap songs — both written in advance and through improvisational “free-styling” — has helped him become a better mathematician and professor and, conversely, how the process of thinking like a mathematician has also helped him as a creative performer. The audience is welcomed to help create a rap song, as well as partake in some mathematical and logical activities.

Performances are followed by a live freestyle rap session and Q&A with performers (starting at 36:39).

This event was hosted by Albert Sykes, Executive Director of IDEA: The Institute for Democratic Education in America, a supporter of public education for children in the U.S.

Thursday, December 10
1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

Little Ones Rule with Mathical: Live Author Readings with the Mathical Book Prize

This event was available to view online during December 2020. * This recording’s public availability has expired due to copyright restrictions. Thank you to those who joined us live or viewed the recording in December 2020. We encourage you to check out the titles contained at your local bookstore or library!

Wednesday, December 9
1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

Tweens and Teens Take on Mathical: Live Author Readings with the Mathical Book Prize

This event was available to view online during December 2020. * This recording’s public availability has expired due to copyright restrictions. Thank you to those who joined us live or viewed the recording in December 2020. We encourage you to check out the titles contained at your local bookstore or library!