The Chapel Hill Math Circle brings together students in grades 1 – 12 on a weekly basis to explore new ideas and work on challenging problems with like-minded peers. The program meets about 3 Saturdays per month during the school year, with students divided into 4 groups based on age and level. Dr. Linda Green (UNC) and Dr. Hector Rosario direct and teach the program, with help from about 15 volunteers, which include UNC undergraduate and graduate students and local middle and high school teachers.
Girls Talk Math is a free two-week-long day camp at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was founded in 2016 by two Ph.D. candidates, Francesca Bernardi and Katrina Morgan, thanks to the MAA Tensor Grant Program for Women and Mathematics. The program is available to rising 9th through 12th grade girls in the Triangle Area who are interested in tackling challenging math problems that go beyond the high school curriculum. During camp the girls break into small groups to work on a problem set and research the story of a female mathematician whose work was relevant to the math they are exploring. Each group then writes a blog post detailing the solution to their problems and records a podcast telling the story of their mathematician.
The goal of Girls Talk Math is to encourage girls to consider careers in mathematics. The program’s approach is based in an understanding of the barriers preventing young women from entering mathematical fields, including a failure to see themselves represented among mathematicians, lack of confidence in their abilities, and less encouragement from peers and teachers. The myth that mathematics has historically been done only by men can contribute to internalized beliefs that women are less capable of success in these careers. The camp aims to increase confidence by giving students a voice and a platform to be heard through the blog and podcast series.
The Julia Robinson Math Festival is a national program that inspires kids to explore the beauty of mathematics through creative, collaborative problem solving. One-day festivals are held around the country, and UNC’s Math Department sponsors the festival on campus in May. The festival brings together about 250 local kids to work on activities ranging from easy puzzles to open problems. Each table has a theme, and students can visit several activities during the 3 hour event. Each activity is staffed by an expert, and raffle tickets for math books are awarded for progress and persistence.
Each year, in coordination with the North Carolina Science Festival, UNC hosts an event where the STEM departments put on demonstrations and lead hands on activities for school age children. The goal is to give young kids an opportunity to learn about science and mathematics through hands on experiments and demonstrations. Thanks to our graduate student and faculty volunteers, the mathematics department participates with activities ranging from minimal surface soap bubbles, to mathematical games, the mathematics of juggling patterns, the ever popular corn starch march and more. We also have recently collaborated with the Music department to do a demonstration on vibrating plates and liquids.