Imagine Math Class: Spring 2021 Contest | National Math Festival

Imagine Math Class: Spring 2021 Contest

Imagine Math Class

What is this? A video competition for youth to imagine the future of math class in an anti-racist world.

Who sponsored this? The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is a non-profit organization for professional mathematicians dedicated to research in mathematics, but also to building a better world for young people through hosting public events such as the National Math Festival. 

Who was invited? Youth ages 13-18 at the time of submission.

How did it work? Particupants recorded their video (one minute or less) on the Gather Voices platform using the prompts below.

What did we do with the submissions? Video entries were be posted to the National Math Festival website and/or shared on our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). You can also view the NMF Gather Voices Privacy Policy

Entries from the Spring 2021 contest were broadcast live at the 2021 NMF Live Online Weekend, April 16-18, 2021.

What prize did winners receive? As part of the Spring 2021 contest, all submissions were chosen to screen their videos at the 2021 National Math Festival. We are grateful to all the students who participated in the contest, despite the challenges of the 2020-21 school year. You can see their entries below. These students were also eligible to receive $500 worth of Mathical award-winning books to share with the students at their school. These are graphic novels, and thrillers, and novels about gaming, and biographies, and all kinds of stories with math and youth of color at the center.


Join the Fall 2021 IMAGINE MATH CLASS Event


IMAGINE MATH CLASS: Spring 2021 How to Participate & Video Guidelines

In the videos below, Kirsten and Giahna explain how to participate in the contest, and some suggestions for thinking about your answer!

Kirsten B.


Giahna O.


IMAGINE MATH CLASS: Spring 2021 Video Guidelines

You are stepping into a future world as YOU want it to be. Don’t worry about what’s possible, or how much money it costs, or how broken the system is now. Call on your powers of imagination. Call on your personal power. Imagine the way YOU want the math class of the future to be.

Students used the GatherVoices website to record a video of up to 60 seconds or upload one they made on their cell phone. The Spring 2021 prompts were:


IMAGINE MATH CLASS: Student Submissions from Spring 2021

Thank you to everyone who has submitted a video for our Spring 2021 contest! You can view the submissions below.

Harry L.


Darya L.


Katarina D.


The Young People's Project


Neenah F.


Annabelle P.


Siu Fung Ethan C.


Venus L.


Jeffrey C.


Sriram S.


Kevin M.


IMAGINE MATH CLASS: Additional Information

Why is this important? Racism happens everywhere, including in math class. If you haven't noticed it before, this is a chance to notice it now, by watching the videos showing the experiences of your peers around the country.

Imagine Math Class logo

I'm confused. How can math be racist? It's just numbers. Every human environment is permeated by the culture in which we live. It's hard to see our surrounding culture sometimes. If our culture is working well for us, it might seem "normal" or invisible. This is a chance to uncover how math class looks or feels to someone for whom it is definitely *not* working most of the time.

Another answer to this question looks at, What is math? Is it really just numbers and symbols? Like every other human enterprise, math is inherently human. It is made or discovered — depending on which mathematician you ask! — by human beings. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. It is to be expected that the way we teach and learn math is mixed up with our identities as white-bodied, Black-bodied, or other individuals. You cannot separate your identity as an embodied person with a racial identity from your identity as a math person.

Each of us is a math person. We all have a relationship to math, one way or another.

Each of us has an embodied racial identity, regardless of the color of our skin.

This is a project that invites youth to explore how these two identities overlap, inform, or could potentially change each other for the positive -- in a fiercely imagined future world.