What Students Say
I wish they did this every single weekend. I had so much fun and feel like I learned so much. I can’t wait for the next one!
I thought it was fun. There were a lot of interesting things to do and you don’t even know that you’re doing math.
I liked working together with my friends. The teacher at the table didn’t help us much. We did this ourselves.
What Facilitators Say
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The JRMF really gets it right. Usually the best parts of mathematics are kept away from the public, as if you needed to be a mathematician to get to the fun stuff! It’s refreshing to see a festival that brings this stuff to light, and in such a relaxed atmosphere. If you’re lucky enough to have a JRMF near you, don’t miss it! It’s the best math party around.
What Festival Hosts Say
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Our goal was to get kids past being calculators to instead being mathematicians, thinkers and problem solvers. Math doesn’t necessarily have to look the way it does traditionally during the school week.
If we can present math through puzzles and problem-solving in a non-threatening, fun environment – we can host it for kids – that is what it is all about. That is where learning occurs.
We know that kids start to lose interest in STEM careers or math by the time they reach middle school. This is a great way to keep them engaged, keeping those future career pathways open to them longer than if they start to shut down and lose interest in math.
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(1) As students came in, I could tell from most of their initially shy demeanors that they were a little unsure of what to expect from a ‘math festival.’ I watched as they listened to the professors and undergrads give hints, not answers, at how to work the problems. The way the table leaders facilitated their tables enabled kids to have many ‘ah-ha’ moments that were really fun to see. (2) I didn’t see a single cell phone out the entire morning…no need to say anything else about the level of engagement! (3) We had a very diverse group of students in attendance (G/T students, pre-AP and non pre-AP students, middle school, and high school students) but every kid found success at the event by finding patterns, creating something, or solving a puzzle without the direct help of a teacher telling them what to do. One girl who often struggles in my Geometry class told me at the end of the event (without me asking) that she had fun, she’s looking forward to next year, and can’t wait to come back! (4) When the time was winding down at the event and parents were arriving to pick up their students, I made a quick announcement thanking the students for coming and putting in so much hard work into the morning. Not one student got up…I had to remind them several times that their parents were there to take them home, but they all wanted to finish up the problem set they were working on!
The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival Presents: A Celebration of Mind room at the 2017 National Math Festival, was a highly popular destination for kids and adults of all ages. The ‘puzzle room,’ as it was widely known that day, featured several organizations and dozens of hands-on games, puzzles, and problems that intrigued, amused, and engaged festival-goers. They loved it!
The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival offers a great opportunity for our country. We can spread wonderfully beautiful and practical mathematics into schools and communities that don’t experience mathematics this way. We can spark students’ interest in mathematics, train them in logical thinking, and identify students with high potential whose abilities may not be uncovered through competition.
The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival is a perfect complement to our extensive program of mathematical competition. It can reach students not ready for competition and students not interested in competition. Its flexible format allows us to address the needs of a wide group of students.
These math puzzles are FUN! I am incredibly impressed by the JRMF’s ability to bring math to life in such an engaging, tangible way. They truly make math accessible to everyone and show how rewarding and interesting problem sets can be. I especially like the Squaring & Skyscrapers puzzles – I wish these existed when I was in school!
What Researchers Say
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…what everyone needs — girls and boys both — is a different kind of math teaching, with much less emphasis on timed tests, and more attention to teaching math as a visual subject, and as a place for creativity… The lovely thing is when you change math education and make it more about deep conceptual understanding, the gender differences disappear. Boys and girls both do well.