The Talking Stick Blog

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Awaken Your Child’s Inner Mathematician: New Math Circles

Talking Stick Learning Center will offer 5 New Math Circle Sessions This Year

New Math Circles at Talking Stick Learning Center in Philadelphia, PAMath Circle is a supplementary program at Talking Stick, led by Mt. Airy math educator Rodi Steinig. Math Circles are a form of education enrichment and outreach that bring mathematicians into direct contact with students. It is an informal setting to work on interesting problems or topics in mathematics. The goal is to get the students excited about the mathematics, giving them a setting that encourages them to become passionate about mathematics.

Talking Stick is proud to have hosted Rodi and Math Circles since 2011. These are some of our most popular programs, and we are making an extra effort to get the word out early this year as space does fill up quickly.

This year, we are are encouraging you to register now for any of these Math Circles; you can hold a space for your child with only a $10 deposit, and we will invoice you for the rest of the tuition. Our hope is that this will allow families to commit to these programs now while space is available without incurring a sudden financial burden; it also helps us to plan and prepare these programs in advance.

Take a Look at What We Have Planned

Rational Triangles
Suggested ages: 12-14
September 22 – October 27

Led by Rachel Steinig, students will make ropes dance via specified moves. Rational Tangles was invented by one of Rodi’s favorite mathematicians, John Horton Conway, a living mathematician whose life we’ll discuss in the course. Rational Tangles is rich in mathematical content, including algebraic thinking, transformations, symmetry, classification, geometric equivalence, the order of operations, and some of the more interesting arithmetic of fractions.

Fermat's Last Theorem
Suggested ages: 14-18
October 31 – December 5

Our math circle will explore the storied history of Fermat’s Last Theorem and some of the underlying mathematics, such as Pell’s and other Diophantine Equations, and Fermat Proofs for Specific Exponents. We will discuss specific work by mathematician Sophie Germain, as well as the drama involved in Andrew Wiles’ Fermat proof.

According to Wikipedia, “Fermat's Last Theorem states that no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n strictly greater than two. This theorem was first conjectured by Pierre de Fermat in 1637 in the margin of a copy of Arithmetica where he claimed he had a proof that was too large to fit in the margin. The first successful proof was released in 1994 by Andrew Wiles, and formally published in 1995, after 358 years of effort by mathematicians. The unsolved problem stimulated the development of algebraic number theory in the 19th century and the proof of the modularity theorem in the 20th century. It is among the most notable theorems in the history of mathematics Prior to its proof, it was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "most difficult mathematical problem", one of the reasons being that it has the largest number of unsuccessful proofs.”

Mathematics and Truth
Suggested ages: 8-9
January 10-February 14

In this course, we will attempt to discern whether math is about absolute truth or relative truth, and along the way will discuss how math is a creative endeavor. Using the book Camp Logic and other sources, we will engage in logical reasoning, induction, and proof to explore ideas including invariants and isomorporhism.

Problem Solving
Suggested ages: 6-7
March 2 – April 6

Using both unsolved problems in mathematics and the book Avoid Hard Work, we will explore general problem-solving strategies. The goal is for students to move toward an understanding that (1) the pursuit of mathematics is not the same as memorizing a bunch of math facts, and that (2) there are ways of thinking that help to tackle a problem. The students will create their own problems for others to solve.

Suggested ages: 10-13
April 18 – May 23

Beginning with non-mathematical functions, then function machines, and finally - probably - ending with algebraic expressions and graphing on the coordinate plane, we will have fun discovering what a function is and how to express it in various mathematical ways. I say “probably” because Math-Circle is student-directed and the students’ mathematical interests could take them elsewhere once I present the initial premises.

To learn more about our Math Circle, click here.