2013 Circle on the Road

Dates: March 8 – 10, 2013
Location: University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Julia Robinson Math Festival

The workshop brought together new and experienced leaders of math circles for students and teachers.
Workshop activities included discussions, presentations, and a Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival for the general public. Participants began collaborating before the workshop to present sample Math Circle sessions during the Mathematics Festival. These activities were collaboratively presented and refined during the workshop, providing the opportunity for a hands-on Math Circle experience.

Math Festival:

See the flyers in English and in Spanish

Schedule and Other Details

The 2013 Circle on the Road took place in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico from Friday morning, March 8th, through Sunday afternoon, March 10th. Registration and refreshments began at 9:30 AM (Atlantic time) on Friday, with the program starting at 10:30 AM. The official program ended on Sunday at 4 PM, though people will be encouraged to continue conversations and enjoy Puerto Rico afterwards if their flight arrangements permitted.

Circle on the Road 2013 Schedule

Friday, March 8, 2013

Meet in the Luis Monzón building in room 201

9:30 – 10:00 AM Meeting for Lead Presenters for Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

10:00 – 10:30 AM Registration and Snacks (room 315)

10:30 – 10:45 AM Welcome and Introductory Remarks

10:45 – 11:00 AM What are Math Circles? Mark Saul

11:00 – 11:15 AM What are Math Teachers’ Circles? Diana White

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Sample Math Circle:

Turning Laughter into AH – a Trip with the Visually Impaired. Dave Auckly. We will laugh and say AH as we discover what can be done with weak versions of the commutative law. Everyone should have a ball, and we may travel all the way to the arctic on our journey.

12:00 – 12:10 PM Break

12:10 – 12:55 PM Small Group Discussions: Math Circle Experiences and Plans

Teams A1 and B1, A2 and B2, A3 and B3, in room 201. Teams A4 and B4, A5 and B5, A6 and B6, in room 315.

12:55 – 1:00 PM Before Lunch Announcements

1:00 – 2:30 PM Lunch

2:30 – 3:00 PM The Navajo Nation Math Circle Project. Henry Fowler and Tatiana Shubin (room 201)

The goal of the Navajo Nation Math Circles Project is to develop and demonstrate the Math Circle concept in the Native American community, simultaneously creating math circles for students, and a math teachers’ circle network which will promote the culture of problem solving among all members of the community. Together these two components will bring more Native Americans into mathematics and other STEM fields. What makes this project unique and exciting is the fact that implementing a familiar math circle model on the Navajo Nation territory has specific challenges. We will talk about these difficulties and of our approach to overcoming them. Slides

3:05 – 4:00 PM Breakout Sessions:

Great Ideas For Math Circle Leaders: Elementary, Secondary, Math Teachers’ Circles


Math Circles for Elementary Students (room 315)

  • The Accessible Mystery. Rodi Steinig
    According to Bob and Ellen Kaplan, one key to a successful Math Circle is an “accessible mystery.” I will share some mathematical mysteries that my students have found quite accessible, some that turned out to be inaccessible, and the general characteristics of both. Then I will work with workshop attendees to create a new and hopefully accessible mystery to take home.
  • Math Dominoes Tournament. Anna Burago.
    “Mathematical Dominoes” is a problem-solving contest that can be played during a math circle session. The rules of Math Dominoes are very simples, and the game is as interesting and exciting for a 3rd-grader as for an 8th-grader. Math Dominoes tournament can last for as long as it is needed and can be stopped at any moment. The game engages each and every student in active problem solving and allows all students to work at their pace and their level.
  • SM&SH Day: Sixth Grade Math and Science Day at Hotchkiss. Marta Eso.
    This is a short report on a Math and Science Festival that a group of dedicated high school teachers and students and professionals from the local community organized for all sixth grade students in the Connecticut Region 1 school district for the past two years. What sets this program apart from other festivals is that it has the full support of the school district and it is organized as a daylong field trip with all sixth graders and their teachers participating. Presentation


Math Circles for Secondary Students (room 203)

  • Height Sight and Stomp Rocket! Jamylle Carter
    Exciting a group of middle-school students about measurements and angles can be tough. But it’s easy to interest them in launching rockets. I will describe how to construct rockets that are launched by stomping on a soda bottle. Math is employed to measure how high the rockets fly. These activities can be found in The Math Explorer: Games and Activities for Middle School Youth Groups, published by the Exploratorium and Key Curriculum Press.
  • Favorite problems from the UWM Math Circle. Gabriella Pinter
    The UWM Math Circle is a small circle focused on open-ended problem solving activities. We present a few of our memorable problems that worked well with students in grades 7-10. These problems provoked intense discussions sometimes lasting for several meetings, and brought up numerous new questions and ideas. Slides


Math Teachers’ Circles (room 205)

  • Math Teachers’ Circles: Recruitment and Retention. Angie Hodge and Janice Rech
    The Omaha Area Math Teachers’ Circle has had as many as 45 participants in attendance at a single evening event and we don’t even feed them dinner. In this session, we will discuss how we brought our numbers from just a handful of participants to a roomful of excited teachers. Simple tips that we thought were key as well as major components of our program that we think have been successful will be discussed.
  • A Rural Math Teachers’ Circle. Gloria Brown Brooks
    The creation of a rural Mathematics Teachers’ Circle took perseverance. Explaining the beauty of a Circle and how teachers can grow from the interaction with deep problems, can somehow get lost in explanation when dealing with administrators. The positive cama- raderie created in a circle environment cannot be easily explained. Some of the adminis- tration questions raised were, “Can this help math test scores?” and “Will it create better mathematics teachers?”. “Yes”, was the response to both questions. Now in our fourth year, I will discuss funding, hiring and maintaining “The San Benito Math Talks”, our Math Teachers’ Circle.
    Resources: Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and AlgebraWhat’s Math Got to Do with It? Boaler.
  • Developing expertise at designing and facilitating Math Teachers’ Circle sessions. Diana White
    Developing facilitations skills and the expertise to design and lead a Math Teachers’ Circle (MTC) session is a challenging task for most mathematicians. Indeed, facilitating MTC sessions requires a skill set that most mathematicians are not trained in, and hence need to intentionally practice and work toward developing. Developing MTC sessions likewise is a non-trivial skill set to develop. In this talk, the speaker shares her personal journey to develop these skills, in the hopes that her experiences may help other mathematicians transition into confident, eager MTC facilitators.

4:00 – 4:15 PM Break

4:15 – 5:00 PM Julia Robinson Teams Meet

5:00 – 5:30 PM Set-up for Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

5:30 – 6:00 PM Julia Robinson Teams Summaries

6:00 – 6:10 PM End of Day Announcements

Saturday, March 9, 2013: Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

Meet in the Anfiteatro de Enfermería

8:00 – 9:00 AM Prepare for arrival of participants (Breakfast items available)

9:00 – 9:30 AM Participant registration. Puzzles and Games.

9:30 – 10:30 AM Math Circles (Teams A1 through A6 present)

Julia Robinson Math Festival:Click Here!

10:30 – 11:00 AM Inter-session Puzzles and Games

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Math Circles (Teams B1 through B6 present)

12:00 – 1:00 PM Puzzles and Games (Lunch items available in Q 150)

1:00 – 2:00 PM Math Circles (Teams A1 through A6 present)

2:00 – 2:30 PM Inter-session Puzzles and Games

2:30 – 3:30 PM Math Circles (Teams B1 through B6 present)

3:30 – 5:00 PM Clean up and Rest

5:00 – 7:00 PM Banquet in the Mezannie (Canchas de Tenis)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meet in the Luis Monzón building in room 201

8:00 – 8:30 AM Breakfast Available

8:30 – 9:00 AM Resources and Opportunities Available to Math Circle Leaders
Math Circles Library
Mathematical Circles Russian Experience
Art of Problem SolvingBeast Academy
Talking Stick Math Circle Blog

9:00 – 10:30 AM Featured Recreational Mathematics Talk. Chaim Goodman-Strauss

Saturday Morning Math Group
Math Factor Radio Podcasts
Math Bun (Art)
The Symmetry of Things (Book)
Museum of Mathematics

10:30 – 10:45 AM Break

10:45 – 11:45 AM What are the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Kristin Umland

Forty five states, four territories, and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Why did they agree to adopt a common set of standards? From whence did they spring? What is different about these standards? In this talk we will discuss the design principles of the standards, the structure of the content standards, and the standards for mathematical practice. We will also talk about the opportunities—and pitfalls—that lie before us.

11:45 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch

1:00 –2:45 PM Workshop: Analyzing Math Circle Lessons/Activities for Common Core State Standards
for Mathematics Alignment

Robert N. Ronau, University of Louisville Christopher R. Rakes, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
During this session, we introduce three tools for facilitating alignment of lessons and activities with Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). We demonstrate analysis of Coins in Twoland in terms of CCSSM. Participants will then collaborate to revise, enhance, or develop a Math Circle lesson which incorporates CCSSM at a level appropriate for their audience of interest.


2:45 – 2:55 PM Break

2:55 – 3:00 PM Plans for Continued Work With Common Core State Standards. Amanda Serenevy

3:00 – 3:45 PM Rotating round table discussions

Recruitment, reaching under-served populations, re- training students, fund-raising, bringing Math Circle ideas into classrooms, evaluation.

3:45 – 4:00 PM Concluding Remarks / Evaluations

Organizing Committee Members: 

  • Amanda Serenevy (Riverbend Community Math Center)
  • Dave Auckly (Kansas State University), Jonathan Farley (Research Institute for Mathematics)
  • Hector Rosario (University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez)
  • Mark Saul (Center for Mathematical Talent)
  • Brandy Wiegers (San Francisco State University & MSRI)
  • Diana White (University of Colorado Denver)