Department Of Mathematics, Kansas State University

News Details

September 2015 : Rozhkovskaya's Math Circles Program Featured in Scientific American Blog
Associate Professor Natasha Rozhkovskaya is interviewed by Anna Kuchment, a contributing editor at Scientific American and a staff science writer at The Dallas Morning News. The exchange appears online on the Scientific American blog page.

"A math circle is a type of math club", says Natasha Rozhkovskaya. "It's organized by a grown up who likes math very much and has some mathematics-based education. Usually, he or she works with a group of kids, and the background of the kids can be different. I work with kids who have a strong interest in math." Natasha continues, "We work on challenging problems and discuss different techniques. Some people prepare for math competitions. So, it depends on the leader. And there are many different styles. There's not just one particular way to do this."

At Kansas State University Natasha leads a math circle consisting of 2 age groups: the first up through 4th grade; and the second for 5th and 6th graders. There are 25 children in the youngest group and 10 in the older group who attend on a regular basis. Each group meets every two weeks. Natasha also tries to invite special guests. The idea is not only to talk about math itself, but also to show the kind of opportunities that math can open for students. For instance a speaker from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston came and talked about the current space program, about his work at NASA. He showed beautiful pictures and brought a piece of the space shuttle and a huge astronaut glove. It was an incredible experience for the kids. And he said, yes, you should learn math if you want to work at NASA. The math circle also takes field trips. Natasha has a joint project with the Beach Art Museum on the KSU campus. She takes the kids there after-hours when the museum is closed, and they discuss one particular piece in the museum that is related to math. Read the entire interview at this link: