MathCEP champions outreach with Saturday Morning Math enrichment activities

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (12/20/2022) – The Mathematics Center for Educational Programs (MathCEP) is a leader in the School of Mathematics’ outreach activities, providing in-person programs for students in grades 5 - 7. Saturday Morning Math is an enrichment program that encourages students to engage with mathematics and scientific applications of math through a variety of lenses and themes. 

The program focuses on math topics that are outside of the traditional school curriculum. Saturday Morning Math promotes interactive activities and hands-on tasks, with students working closely with University instructors and University student mentors. Saturday Morning Math themes for the 2022-2023 school year include Spherical Journeys, Tessellating Patterns, Directions in Space, and Topology & Knot Theory. This past Saturday, December 10th, MathCEP invited students to experience this year’s second Saturday Morning Math. Fifth and sixth grade students engaged in a Mathematical Games lesson, while sixth and seventh graders learned about fractals.

Saturday Morning Math student works at the whiteboard.
Two Saturday Morning Math students smile together.

Fifth and sixth graders explored different strategies while playing a variety of mathematical games. Students used mathematical reasoning to analyze games and learned about strategies that will allow them to win. For example, when playing the game of Nim – a counting game - the first person to take a turn has an advantage, and if a strategy is followed, the first turn taker can always win. Other games analyzed were Dots and Boxes, Math Tag, and Jenga. 

Sixth and seventh graders learned about patterns and investigated patterns found in fractals, by using numbers, colors and geometry.  Fractals are shapes that are self-similar, in other words each piece of the shape looks like the entire shape. 

“Students created beautiful patterns which model natural shapes. The ending project in this class involved cutting and pasting shapes that ultimately were put together to form a Sierpinski Tetrahedron. This was a fun activity that promotes teamwork and communication by students having to stack and tape the shapes each student individually constructed into a giant tetrahedron,” said MathCEP Enrichment Coordinator Sharon Carter.

For four decades MathCEP has been dedicated to their mission of expanding professional development resources for instructors, developing educational materials for K-12 mathematics education, engaging in outreach and enrichment programs, and staying involved in educational scholarship. In 2018, the center received the American Mathematical Society’s Award for an Exemplary Program. Along with Saturday Morning Math, MathCEP’s program roster includes the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP), workshops for K-12 instructors, and summer camps for students.