Math Circle Best Practices Math Fest 2012

Handout Materials are available on the links below

Joshua Zucker Circle Demo

Jim Tanton

Dyadic Fractions, Permutations and Paper Folding

In this talk we illustrate some of the spectacular mathematical heights young students can attain in the Math Circle setting. Surprising connections between three seemingly disparate topics will be revealed.

Phil Yasskin and David Manuel

SEE-Math: Six String Probability Activity

Texas A&M's Summer Educational Enrichment in Math (SEE-Math), now in its eleventh year, is a 2 week summer program for gifted and honors level middle school math students. This talk will discuss a fun activity which allows students to address a simple probability problem intuitively, experimentally and computationally. Specifically, 6 strings are held in one hand with one end of each string sticking out the top and the other end sticking out the bottom, but you don't know which string on the top is connected to which string on the bottom. The 6 strings on the top are then tied in 3 pairs and the same on the bottom. When you let go the strings will be in 3 loops, or 2 loops or 1 big loop. What is the probability they will be in one loop? The generalization to higher numbers of strings leads to a derivation using mathematical induction.

Amanda Serenevy

Bringing Math Circle Ideas into Classrooms

The new Common Core State Standards require teachers to provide much richer mathematical experiences compared with traditional pedagogical approaches. Although Math Circles and Teacher Circles should not limit themselves to the content included in these standards, many topics popular in Math Circles lend themselves particularly well to the goals of the Common Core State Standards. The Math Circle movement has an opportunity to assist educators with the challenging transition before them, which has the potential to revolutionize math instruction in this country if sufficient support for teachers is provided. We will review some of the topics which pose the biggest challenges, and talk about Math and Teacher Circle topics that can help to fill in these gaps.

Ed Keppelmann

Little Wranglers

A math wrangle is a wonderful opportunity for children to present mathematics, work collaboratively, and listen closely to the presentations of others. These are the ideal skills for a complete education in mathematics (and for that matter life). As an official time keeper and moderator now at quite a few math wrangles (at the middle and high school level) I have some observations on them - especially with regard to how the format could be adapted to the very young - say K-3. I will also propose some potential problem sets for such children.

Sam Vandervelde

Path Counting for Math Circles

Practically every well-known sequence of numbers arises as an answer to a path counting question, which for our purposes will ask for the number of ways to move from point A to point B within a certain directed graph. In this talk we will illustrate several entertaining variations on some standard path counting questions and discuss how to incorporate this type of mathematical exploration into a math circle format.

Tatiana Shubin

The Whats and Whys of the AMS MSRI Mathematical Circles Library

What makes a book suitable for a math circle? What kind of supporting materials do leaders and participants of various circles need? We will discuss these and other related questions, and will try to help shaping up the future development of the only book series devoted solely to math circles.

Debra Geddings, George McNulty, Nieves McNulty, and Doug Meade

South Carolina High Energy Mathematics Teachers’ Circle (SCHEMaTC): Year 0

A team of mathematicians and educators from the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, and middle school teachers from two public school districts attended the How To Run a Math Teachers’ Circle workshop hosted by AIM in Palo Alto, CA in July 2011. The team returned energized and focused on completing the creation of SCHEMaTC. The past year has been spent locating funding and other commitments to start the formal MTC with an immersion workshop. This workshop was held just last week. In addition to reporting on the actual workshop, we will share our experiences preparing for the workshop and our vision for the first full year activities.

Melissa Loe and Brenda Kroschel

Collaboration is the Key

The Twin Cities Math Teachers’ Circle just completed its second year and is going strong.  In this session we share some pointers for fostering high retention and creating a lively, collegial, collaborative atmosphere.

Brandy Wiegers

San Francisco Circle: Evaluation of Changes in Mathematical Attitude, 1st Report

This will be a first report of the data from evaluation of San Francisco Math Circle ( This after-school program reaches out to 3 different high schools and provides weekly activities to work on problem solving and critical thinking skills with mathematicians and their developing mathematical community. What is the impact of this activity on the students that are involved? Information will be presented about the survey that was developed and results from the last two years.

Diana White

Research Results - An Update

We present the latest research results from the national study on the Math Teachers' Circle program, with a focus on how these results can inform other Math Teachers' Circles. We also discuss the research plans for the upcoming year and invite audience members to offer thoughts and feedback.