Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival supports locally organized events that inspire K–12 students to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through collaborative, creative problem-solving.
Who We Are & What We Do
Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival supports locally organized events that inspire K–12 students to think critically, to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through collaborative, creative problem-solving. Our Festivals engage many types of students, including those who don’t enjoy competition or working under time pressure. A Festival is also a community event, bringing together institutions and organizations as their constituents celebrate mathematics.
More popular every year since its first event at Google in 2007, the JRMF flourishes because of dedicated mentors, volunteers, and community support. In particular, we’re grateful to founding host the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). We are also thankful to American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), which since 2013 has been providing resources and support as we seek to bring the Festival to more kids.
What Happens at a Festival?
A Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival offers students advanced and thought-provoking mathematics in a social and cooperative atmosphere. Students choose among several tables offering problem sets, games, or puzzles with mathematical themes. They work as long as they wish, while a facilitator provides support and encouragement. Motivation comes from the social interaction, rather than from any prize, grade, medal, or ranking. Festivals are run locally and supported by a national network. They can address any level of student, from those struggling with mathematics to those soaring in achievement.
What is a Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival?
A Festival is an event at which students play with mathematics. Typically, there are a dozen or more tables, each with a facilitator and a problem set, game, puzzle, or activity. Students play and explore individually or in groups, share insights, and make discoveries. Facilitators elicit logical processes for approaching, exploring, or solving problems. The facilitator strives to ask questions rather than provide suggestions or answers. Success is not measured by the number of problems solved nor students’ speed, but rather by how long students stick with activities and by the breadth and depth of their explorations and insights.
Festival activities are designed to open doors to higher mathematics for K–12 students, doors that are not at the top of the staircase, but right at street level.
Who is the Audience?
Festivals are customized for the audience at hand. Local organizers specify their intended audience, and the JRMF organization helps select problems. We support Festivals for students in grades K–3 (usually with their parents), for students in grades 4–6, for middle school students, and for high school students. Some Festival activities are accessible to students with almost no mathematical background, while others engage students with deep mathematical experience. And there are activities for students in between. The social interaction attracts and motivates all kinds of students.
The local organizers decide whether to target certain grades or a wide band of grades. We support festivals for elementary students only, middle school students only, and middle school/high school students.
Video Introduction to JRMF
The JRMF Team
- Nancy Blachman – Founder
- Mark Saul – Executive Director
- Lora Saarnio – Director
- Sam Woodard – Interactive Learning Engineer
- Katie LaSeur – Executive Assistant
- Joshua Zucker – Mathematics Advisor
- Jennifer Kane – Philanthropic Relations & Outreach