The Math Circus Project

Changing perceptions of mathematics through play. A K-12 initiative.


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Philosophy

Our philosophy is simple.

We get kids to see the art and beauty of mathematics through hands-on activities. Our approach is non-rhetorical, leveraging the natural curiosity of kids. We let kids explore the mathematical landscape using their own language, providing the correct terminology once they have discovered a concept.

We know we're on the right track when we hear kids say, "Wow, I can't believe I just did math!", or exclaim in surprise, "How is this math???".

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where -"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go."

- Alice in Wonderland

Stereographic Projection

Kids play with geometry using a light source and a 3D-printed sphere like the one in the figure. These spheres are our modifications of Henry Segerman's model that stereographically project a square grid when a light source hits the North Pole. The video below has a demonstration.

We have kids discover the nature of the mapping by casting shadows of different shapes from the sphere. They also conjecture on why part of the sphere is cutoff, and where indeed does the North Pole go?! This activity naturally gets kids to explore and share their thoughts on infinity with each other using a Think-Pair-Share strategy.

Their curiosity also leads them to try different movements that encode the transformations of magnification, rotation, and inversion.


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Conversations about Infinity

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Alice in Wonderland

Infinity is perplexing, and at the same time wonderous and surprising! No matter the person's age, knowledge, or experience, it's a topic that engages people.

We ask kids to describe what infinity means to them and give examples in words and pictures. We then give them examples of infinity that fit in their hands and ask them to explore.


"What does the word infinity mean to you?"

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We asked them to draw examples of infinity.

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Our Team

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Naveen Somasunderam

Co-founder

I am an engineer and a mathematician by training. As an educator, I use emerging technologies to help kids appreciate the qualitative nature of mathematics.

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Aaliyah Fiala

I am a senior at Oregon State University studying mathematics, computer science, and statistics. Working as a math tutor and in several mentorship programs has taught me that everybody has a unique way of conceptualizing mathematics. I love working with kids and hearing about the different ways that they visualize the world of math.

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Ricardo Reyes Grimaldo

I am a Biomathematician specializing in epidemiology. I am fascinated by how mathematical models can be used to explore biological phenomena. I have been working with K-12 schools for over a decade. I love to help kids see how mathematics connects with our natural world.

Michael Renne

Co-founder

I'm a math educator who researches game-based learning as a tool for learning and exploring the mathematical landscape. It's exciting to see curiosity and creativity flourish while kids discover mathematical truths through play.

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Sam Wiewel

I am a Mechanical Engineering student at Oregon State University with an interest in robotics and mechanical systems. I am passionate about 3-D printing and mathematics. I love to influence student learning in a positive way by turning mathematical concepts into 3-D printed objects.