What is a Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival?

A Festival is an event at which students play with mathematics. We set up are a dozen or more tables, each with a facilitator and a problem set, game, puzzles, or activity. Students explore problems individually or in groups and discover the mathematics. Success is measured not by the number of problems solved or the speed of solution, but rather by how long the student sticks to a problem.

Download the Festival Organizers Brochure


What are the requirements for a Julia Robinson Math Festival?

A large majority of problems and activities for the festival must come from the Julia Robinson Math Festival's repository. There must be mathematical facilitators who support and encourage students during the problem solving process. There must be time and space for facilitator training. A Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival banner must be displayed, and the festival listed on the JRMF website.

Download the Responsibilities Timeline


Who covers the cost of the festival?

Local organizers usually find local funding for the events. The JRMF organization provides many services at no cost, and local organizations often make contributions in cash or in kind. Many festivals use our online registration system at www.jrmf.org. Many also charge a nominal attendance fee ($10 per student). This possibility is built into the registration system, as well as a check box for attendees to ‘opt out’ of paying the fee. This is done solely at the discretion of the registrant. Local organizers often use the registration fees to cover much of the cost of the festival. We never want finances to be an obstacle to hosting a festival. Julia Robinson Math Festival is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire interest, creativity, and collaboration in mathematics among K-12 students. We will work with the host to make the festival affordable or seek grant funding if needed.

How is publicity managed?

Local organizers have had good results reaching out to local Math Circles, either personally or using social media. JRMF can provide flyers to send home with students and share with schools. Often, many attendees are from a school hosting the Festival.

How much space will I need?

The festival works best in an open space, such as a gymnasium or cafeteria. Having all the students in one space is ideal. It promotes collaboration and positive energy among the students. For a first festival, we recommend 100-120 students, so that a host learns how to handle the logistics of a festival. For a festival serving 100 students, at least 10 tables are recommended. Round tables should be at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) in diameter. Oblong tables should be at least 6 feet in length. These dimensions will determine the space necessary.

Would the target audience be middle school, high school, or both?

Our Festivals can be customized for the audience at hand. After you specify your intended audience, JRMF will be happy to suggest problems and activities that will be engaging and challenging for that audience. We have run festivals for students in grades 1-3 (usually with their parents), for students in grades 4-6, for middle school students and for high school students. We have run Festivals for students with almost no mathematical background outside the classroom, and for students with deep mathematical experience. 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’ve had elementary only, middle school only, and middle school/high school festivals. The greater the grade span, the more challenging the festival can be to host.

What does facilitator training look like?

Training for facilitators (table leaders) often occurs right before the festival, and typically lasts about an hour. The organizer of the training session discusses the philosophy and pedagogical approach of the festival, presents an overview of logistics, and goes over the expectations of table leaders. One effective way to accomplish training in the content matter of a festival is to provide each facilitator with a copy of his or her own activity in advance. In the training session, facilitators of different problems pair off. First one facilitator acts the role of a student, working a problem or activity which is new while the other facilitator supports him or her. Then the pair reverses roles.

Interested in hosting a new festival?

If you have questions about registering to organize a new festival, please contact the help desk at help@jrmf.org.