Madison Math Circle

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For the site in Spanish, visit Math Circle de Madison

What is a Math Circle?

The Madison Math Circle is a weekly series of mathematically based activities aimed at interested middle school and high school students. It is an outreach program organized by the UW Math Department. Our goal is to provide a taste of exciting ideas in math and science. In the past we've had talks about plasma and weather in outer space, video game graphics, and encryption. In the sessions, students (and parents) are often asked to explore problems on their own, with the presenter facilitating a discussion. The talks are independent of one another, so new students are welcome at any point.

The level of the audience varies quite widely, including a mix of middle school and high school students, and the speakers generally address this by considering subjects that will be interesting for a wide range of students.


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After each talk we'll have pizza provided by the Mathematics Department, and students will have an opportunity to mingle and chat with the speaker and with other participants, to ask questions about some of the topics that have been discussed, and also about college, careers in science, etc.

The Madison Math circle was featured in Wisconsin State Journal: check it out!

All right, I want to come!

We have a weekly meeting, Monday at 6pm in 3255 Helen C White Library, during the school year. New students are welcome at any point! There is no fee and the talks are independent of one another, so you can just show up any week, but we ask all participants to take a moment to register by following the link below:

Math Circle Registration Form

All of your information is kept private, and is only used by the Madison Math Circle organizer to help run the Circle.

If you are a student, we hope you will tell other interested students about these talks, and speak with your parents or with your teacher about organizing a car pool to the UW campus. If you are a parent or a teacher, we hope you'll tell your students about these talks and organize a car pool to the UW (all talks take place in 3255 Helen C White Library, on the UW-Madison campus, right next to the Memorial Union).


Directions and parking

Our meetings are held on the 3rd floor of Helen C. White Hall in room 3255.

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Parking. Parking on campus is rather limited. Here is as list of some options:

Email list

The best way to keep up to date with the what is going is by signing up for our email list. Send an empty email to join-mathcircle@lists.wisc.edu

Contact the organizers

The Madison Math Circle is organized by a group of professors and graduate students from the Department of Mathematics at the UW-Madison. If you have any questions, suggestions for topics, or so on, just email the organizers here. We are always interested in feedback!

Donations

Please consider donating to the Madison Math Circle. As noted in our annual report, our main costs consist of pizza and occasional supplies for the speakers. So far our costs have been covered by donations from the UW Mathematics Department as well as a generous gifts from a private donor. But our costs are rising, primarily because this year we expect to hold more meetings than in any previous year. In fact, this year, we expect to spend at least $2500 on pizza and supplies alone.

So please consider donating to support your math circle! The easiest way to donate is to go to the link:

Online Donation Link

There are instructions on that page for donating to the Math Department. Be sure and add a Gift Note saying that the donation is intended for the "Madison Math Circle"! The money goes into the Mathematics Department Annual Fund and is routed through the University of Wisconsin Foundation, which is convenient for record-keeping, etc.

Alternately, you can bring a check to one of the Math Circle Meetings. If you write a check, be sure to make it payable to the "WFAA" and add the note "Math Circle Donation" on the check.

Or you can just pay in cash, and we'll give you a receipt.

Help us grow!

If you like Math Circle, please help us continue to grow! Students, parents, and teachers can help by:

  • Posting our flyer at schools or anywhere that might have interested students
  • Discussing the Math Circle with students, parents, teachers, administrators, and others
  • Making an announcement about Math Circle at PTO meetings
  • Donating to Math Circle

Contact the organizers if you have questions or your own ideas about how to help out.

Meetings for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017

Unless specified talks start at 6pm in room 3255 of Helen C. White Library, unless otherwise noted.

Fall 2016
Date Speaker Topic
August 6, 2016
(Click Title for Time & Location.)
Science Saturday Game Busters
September 12, 2016 Jean-Luc Thiffeault Why do my earbuds keep getting entangled?
September 19, 2016 DJ Bruce Is Any Knot Not the Unkont?
September 26, 2016 Megan Maguire Coloring Maps
October 3, 2016 Zach Charles 1 + 1 = 10, or How does my smartphone do anything?
October 10, 2016 Keith Rush Randomness, determinism and approximation: a historical question
October 17, 2016 Phillip Matchett-Wood The game of Criss-Cross
October 24, 2016 Ethan Biehl A Chocolate Bar for Every Real Number
October 31, 2016 No Meeting Enjoy Halloween!
November 7, 2016 Polly Yu Are we there yet?
November 14, 2016 Micky Soule Steinberg Circles and Triangles
November 21, 2016 Benedek Valko Fun with hats
Spring 2017
Date Speaker Topic
January 30, 2017 Daniel Erman The Josephus Problem
February 6, 2017 Cullen McDonald Building a 4-dimensional house
February 13, 2017 Dima Arinkin Solve it with colors
February 20, 2017 Reese Johnston Knights and Knaves
February 27, 2017 Jessica Lin The Mathematics Behind Sound
March 6, 2017 Becky Eastham How to Win a Brand New Car and Escape Execution with Probability
March 13, 2017 Jim Brunner You and your clones predict the future
March 20, 2017 No Meeting - (UW Spring Break)
March 27, 2017 John Wiltshire-Gordon What if seven is zero?
April 3, 2017 Will Mitchell Math and Fluids

High School Meetings

We are experimenting with holding some Math Circle meetings directly at local high schools. Our schedule for the fall is below. If you are interesting in having us come to your high school, please contact us!

Fall 2016
Date Location Speaker Topic Link for more info
October 17, 2016 2:45pm JMM Daniel Erman What does math research look like?
October 24, 2016 2:45pm West High DJ Bruce Shhh, This Message Is Secret
October 31, 2016 2:45pm East High DJ Bruce Shhh, This Message Is Secret
December 5, 2016 2:45pm East High Uri Andrews How to split an apartment
December 5, 2016 2:45pm JMM Phillip Matchett Wood The game of Criss-Cross
Spring 2017
Date Location Speaker Topic Link for more info
February 13, 2017 2:45pm East High Eva Elduque Pick's Theorem
February 20, 2017 2:45pm JMM Megan Maguire Coloring Maps
March 20, 2017 2:45pm East High DJ Bruce Doodling Daydreams
April 3rd, 2017 2:45pm JMM Polly Yu Are we there yet?
TBD TBD TBD TBD
TBD TBD TBD TBD
TBD TBD TBD TBD

Useful Resources

Annual Reports

2013-2014 Annual Report

Archived Abstracts

2016 - 2017 Math Circle Page

2016 - 2017 Abstracts

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page (Spanish)

2015 - 2015 Abstracts

Archived Math Circle Material

Link for presenters (in progress)

Advice For Math Circle Presenters

Sample Lesson Plans

"Circle in a Box"