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Stories about...Mathematics

Winter Math Carnival Adds Up to a Good Time for Local Families

February 12, 2020

Math can be fun! This was the idea behind the Winter Math Carnival held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on February 2nd from 2:00–5:00 pm. It drew around 150 families and 400–500 people overall—parents, grandparents, and a whole lot of kids having a good time. Sponsored by Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL), a key research/outreach program of Illinois’ Mathematics Department, the carnival featured a variety of hands-on, math-related activities and games that encouraged the youngsters to think. Plus, in addition to some goodies, kids had a chance to interact with math students who were eager to share their passion for what they do and how much fun math can be.

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The Illinois Geometry Lab Partners with Uni High to Expose Students to Research

June 28, 2019

For the second summer in a row, the Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) in the Department of Mathematics partnered with University Laboratory High School (Uni High) to provide research projects for some of the school’s students. For four weeks from June 3rd through June 28th, 15 high schoolers visited Altgeld Hall to conduct math research, mentored by Illinois Math graduate students. The idea was to expose the younger students to math not traditionally taught in school and also to give them a taste of what math research is like. In addition, the younger students experienced another aspect of academia: they prepared presentations then presented their research at a final symposium on Thursday, June 27th.

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SIM Campers Experience “Ah-ha! Moments” Over the Beauty, Complexity, Oft-Misunderstood Nature...and Fun...of Mathematics

June 14, 2019

“What is the point of this?!” a middle school student asked several of the 22 Summer Illinois Math (SIM) Camp Epsilon participants during an activity on the first day of week-long day camp which ran from June 10–14th. Tied into a “human knot,” he and several of his fellow campers were trying to get untangled. Here’s how they got in this predicament: they stood in a circle facing each other; each raised their right hand and took the hand of someone across from them, then took another’s hand with their free hand. The goal? To untangle the knot without letting go of each other’s hands, deciding which players should go over, under, backwards, or forwards until they all ended up in a single circle, still holding hands.

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An Edison Middle School eighth grader places one of his pieces down while playing Tomb Raiders.GeoJam Helps Edison Eighth Graders Discover That Mathematics Is Fun

December 20, 2018

On Friday, December 14th, 26 Illinois undergraduate students who intend to one day teach mathematics visited Edison Middle School in Champaign as part of the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Department’s annual math outreach, GeoJam. In addition to allowing the school's 220 or so eighth graders to explore a variety of ways that mathematics can be used outside of their math class at school, through the event they discovered that teamwork can be helpful in problem solving. Plus, and probably most importantly, they also learned that math can be fun. This year’s GeoJam was organized by Gloriana Gonzalez, a C&I Professor in Math Education who was helping organize the event for the second year in a row, and C&I instructor Adam Poetzel, whose instructional focus is on the preparation and training of pre-service mathematics teachers to effectively teach diverse K–12 students..

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During Sonia Math Day, a participant writes down data as they participate in the Local Girls Make Strides In Mathematics During AWM’s Sonia Math Day

December 3, 2018

On Saturday, November 10, 2018, during Sonia Math Day, a number of math grad students from the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) put into practice the “Say what you know” idea, taken from the life philosophy of Sonya Kovalevsky. The annual event celebrates the life of Kovalesvsky, the greatest female mathematician prior to the twentieth century, and her impact—that women can succeed in and contribute to the field of mathematics. Benefitting from the AWM women’s wisdom (and that of some male students who support women in math), were five local girls who did some unique, math-related activities probably quite different from what they normally are exposed to in school. Plus, they not only met other local girls also interested in math, but networked with some role models during the event, women who are currently on a trajectory to careers in math.

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An IGL student (standing) looks upon as Central High students work on creating their knot.IGL Links Central High Students to the More Knotty Aspects of Mathematics

November 12, 2018

Everyone is familiar with knots. There are simple knots, such as those we master when we’re five-year-olds learning to tie our shoelaces. Then there are some not-quite-as-simple knots, such as those sailors use when tying rope. But on Thursday, November 1st, a team of Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) students visited Central High School’s AMSO club (Appplied Math and Science Outreach) to introduce the students to knot theory, with its even more complex mathematical knots and links, including Brunnian links. This unique learning opportunity was made possible thanks to the founder and President of the club, Anna Kinderman, who began the club in order to challenge her classmates in STEM, and who reached out to the IGL folks and organized the event.

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Jeremy TysonNew Math Department Chair Faces Challenges: Fostering Community, Math Pipeline Retention, and Making Space

October 10, 2018

In his 17th year at Illinois, first as a Professor, then as Interim Chair, and now the new Chair of Illinois’ Mathematics Department since August of 2018, Jeremy Tyson is pretty familiar with both his department’s achievements as well as the challenges it faces. As with most newly installed Heads, he has big plans for down the road. But before addressing areas that could use improvement, he first takes stock of the department’s strengths. For instance, he’s proud of the faculty’s work to date, and lauds their instructional expertise. “I am really impressed with all of my colleagues and the efforts that they put into their teaching and into their mentoring of students,” he shares. “There's a lot of good things going on in this department already.”

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A particpant during the string art workshopMiddle School Girls Experience Math’s Role in Art During GEMS Workshops

March 27, 2018

What do origami, tessellation, and string art have to do with math? Hoping to find out, a number of local 6th–9th graders participated in the GEMS (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) Workshops which ran for four Saturdays in a row (February 10th through March 3rd). Held in Altgeld Hall in the heart of the Illinois campus (and the Pottery Place in Champaign), GEMS allowed a group of girls to experience first-hand some of the ways math can play a role in art. And besides teaching participants that math is more than rote memorization and repetition, the goal of GEMS was to show the girls that math is all around them, to help them meet other local students interested in math, and to expose them to female mathematicians who might serve as role models.

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Centennial High senior, Edward Lu, getting the laptops set up to display the laser light shows.Team of Educators, Students Design Flashy New Lesson Activity—a Laser Light Show—to Teach UMS Students Coordinate Math…and a Whole Lot More

March 5, 2018

In a fun, exciting way to learn math using cutting-edge technology, on Friday, March 2nd, two of Jason Pound’s 8th grade algebra classes at Urbana Middle School used coordinate math to design a shape which was then displayed using a laser light show. And almost as spectacular as the light show itself was the number of people, both on and off campus, who were involved in various ways to contribute to what MechSE Education Coordinator Joe Muskin calls, “a really cool outreach activity.”

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Math Day at I-STEM’s Multidisciplinary Summer Camp Adds Up to Fun

October 6, 2017

“Math should be painted in a fun light!” – Mathematics PhD student Vanessa Rivera-Quinones.

And that’s what the folks from Illinois’ math department did when 27 Urbana High School (UHS) athletes, mostly underrepresented minorities, participated in Math Day as part of the first-ever I-STEM Summer Camp. “This is math?” is a question that cropped up while, grinning from ear to ear, they raced against time to stop the spread of an epidemic on the VAX website, or wrestled with a challenging combinatorics activity, or struggled to get their mind around mathematical logic as Philip Hieronymi presented some virtually unsolvable brain teasers. So while participating in a variety of challenging, hands-on activities that showed them that math is useful in real-life situations and can be quite different from what they learn in school, they also learned to think outside the box where math is concerned and discovered that math can be fun.

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I-STEM Multidisciplinary Summer Program Exposes UHS Athletes to Different STEM Departments/Units

September 12, 2017

Twenty-seven Urbana High School (UHS) athletes, mostly underrepresented minorities, participated in the first-ever I-STEM Summer Camp from August 7–18. The goals of this multidisciplinary summer program were to 1) expose participants to various STEM fields so they know what their options are when choosing their career/ college path; 2) to build teamwork and lab skills in different STEM disciplines; and 3) to allow students to experience what STEM research is about. Ten different STEM departments and units on campus were each responsible for one day of activities during the two-week camp.

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Melinda LaniusLots of Local Kids (and Parents) Have Fun with Math at Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner

February 3, 2017

Hundreds of local adults and children converged on Altgeld Hall on Saturday, January 28th for Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner. As they participated in the numerous puzzles, games, riddles, magic tricks, and other hands-on activities, they discovered that math is more than just figures and formulas.According to Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, organized this year’s event, “Math is play!” So numerous volunteers from Illinois’ Department of Mathematics, Illinois Geometry Lab, and Association for Women in Mathematics spent the afternoon showing members of the community that play can indeed be math—and that it’s fun.

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Melinda LaniusMath Carnival: Gathering for Gardner to Show Kids—Math Is Play…and Fun!

January 20, 2017

“It’s flipping the switch. Every time we have this event, kids are like, ‘Wait, this counts as math?’ Because they’re having fun! – Melinda Lanius

The math folks in charge of the 2017 edition of the Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner have one goal in mind: trying to get kids to realize that math is more than just some dry formulas memorized in school, but it’s a creative, problem-solving process that’s fun. So from 2:00-5:00 pm on Saturday, January 28th, volunteers from the Department of Mathematics, IGL (Illinois Geometry Lab), and Association for Women in Mathematics will be on hand at Altgeld Hall to get the community, especially local kindergarten through middle school youngsters, engaged and playing with math. “That’s the spirit behind this—Math is play!” says Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, is organizing this year’s event..

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Illinois Math Women Seek to Keep Kids, Especially Girls, in the STEM Pipeline

June 3, 2016

Like most women in STEM, math Ph.D. students Michelle Delcourt, Melinda Lanius, and Claire Merriman, are articulate, born leaders, passionate about math, and committed to outreach. Also like most STEM women, they want to make a difference…specifically to recruit more young people, especially girls, into their field—mathematics. So all three are actively involved in the Illinois chapter of Association of Women in Math (AWM) and in math outreach, like that of the Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) and several outreach events sponsored by AWM: Sonia Math Day, the Summer Illinois Math Camp, and GEMS.

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Rochelle Gutierrez interacts with a local middle school students at Noyce's iMATHS club.Noyce Scholars: Taking Student-Centered Math to High-Needs Schools

May 14, 2013

"Noyce is probably the best decision I've made professionally, and as far as my college career goes." Liz Denz

Liz Denz has wanted to teach math ever since her freshman year in high school. And Illinois' NSF-funded Noyce program, which provides scholarships for talented mathematics majors who want to become K-12 math teachers, is helping to make her and other Noyce scholars' dreams come true.
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Rochelle Gutierrez interacts with a local middle school students at Noyce's iMATHS club.Noyce: Training Math Teachers Who Foster Equity in the K-12 Classroom

May 2, 2013

This is Rochelle Gutiérrez' hope for her Noyce scholars when they finally become K-12 math teachers: that when they look at themselves in the mirror every day, they will be able to say, "I'm doing what I wanted to do when I went into education."
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Allison Rogala helps a student during a hands-on activity at Tap-In.Illinois Geometry Lab: Changing the Shape of Math Research...and Outreach

April 10, 2013

Armed with handfuls of brightly colored geometric shapes, three ambassadors from the Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) have been dropping by Centennial High School's Tap-In after-school program on Thursdays to share their love of mathematics—specifically geometry—with the students.
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Ishan MurphyAnnual Gathering for Gardner Event Celebrates Recreational Mathematics

October 30, 2012

If Captain Jack Sparrow has 100 gold doubloons, how can he distribute them amongst his ship's crew so that he keeps the largest share and still keeps the crew happy enough to avoid walking the plank himself?
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Students work in a group during a Merit section at Illinois.S-STEM Grant to Provide Scholarships for Biology, Chemistry, & Math Merit Students

July 2, 2012

She wants to study chemistry at Illinois. She's familiar with the university because her mom went to school here. But because she lives out of state, it's too expensive. So instead, she's been going to a local college. However, she's been quite discouraged, because she wants to come to Illinois.
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MathLinkIt's not your parents' math class anymore!

November 17, 2009

LAS’ popular online program, Math Teacher Link, which has helped hundreds of instructors nationwide, is bringing math instruction into the computer era.
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