“The highlight of the week for my 12 year old son and me is our Math Circle session. There is no age, no gender and no one is smarter than the other. Math Circle leaders are skilled at creating a collegial environment that fosters discovery by very subtly prompting and guiding discussions among classmates. I wish I had learned via this approach when I first learned math. As a child, my teachers gave me ready made formulas expecting me to memorize, implying I was not smart enough to understand how they were derived. So the very important questions that arose from seeing that formula - what? why? how? - never got addressed. Like magic, the formulas seemed mysterious and inscrutable. Every new formula reinforced this, and I began to fear math - I simply plugged numbers in and eventually I did not even have the basis to determine if the answer made sense or not. In math circles, there is nothing ready made. We start with axioms - simple, obvious truths - and then let ourselves flow. Since we are really just playing, there is nothing like right or wrong, just fun. And what mighty towers we end up building! The exhilaration of discovery, of seeing seemingly random pieces fit together, of clever twists... makes it a mesmerizing experience, leaving both me and my son, and actually, our entire class, wanting more. Every class ends too soon. If you want your child to be good at anything, not just math, then this is the approach to take.”
Parent and Math Circle Student
"The wonderfully exciting Math Circles for kids — classes aimed at developing passionate enjoyment and participation in the play of mathematics. The great point of these Math Circles is to provide a route into loving mathematics that does not require special talent or personality."
Director, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute,
Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley,
Former President, American Mathematical Society"
In the Math Circle, the participants are presented with a knotty problem, and using their own ideas, they work their way through it to a solution. Along the way, they may very well need to define new concepts, invent new terminology, and create new algorithms. The process can take weeks or even months of effort, multiple revisions, and a lot of trial and error, but this is a critical part of the process. Indeed, it is often in making errors and then recognizing them as such that true progress is made. Above all, it is a group effort, with each participant’s ideas welcomed. The group is a circle, not a hierarchy, and the dynamics are cooperative, not competitive. The Math Circle gives kids the opportunity to take ownership of their learning in a way that they seldom encounter in other classes and activities. It is remarkably empowering."
Principal Research Scientist, Mathematics Department, MIT
"The Math Circle is built on the belief that everyone can be a mathematician. Asking probing questions, listening intently to colleagues’ answers, and feeling the heady cocktail of awe, excitement, and perplexity that results from solving one problem and hearing the faint whisper of a deeper pattern and more sweeping tale yet to be told — these are experiences that children, teen-agers and adults feel in the same way. The essential thing is that they must be given complete freedom to change the questions being asked, to answer it in
whichever way they wish, and to solve it in whichever way they wish, rather than following a method taught from a book."
Professor of Mathematics, Amherst College
"It's a Tuesday evening in Cambridge, Mass. The five-year-olds are figuring out how to find the area of a circle (one of them is doing this sitting on her mother's lap and occasionally sucking her thumb). The seven-year-olds are exploring different bases. The nine-year-olds are doing group theory. The big kids are proving the Bolyai-Gerwien theorem (if two polygons have the same area, one can be cut up with a finite number of straight cuts and reassembled to form the other). No one is doing any drills, no one is getting bored, and no one is getting put down for wrong answers or bad guesses. This is The Math Circle. it's not like anything I've seen before."
Peter Flom, Statistical Analysis Consultant
"Seven-year-old Laura can’t quite reach the part of the blackboard on which she wants to draw, so she bounces up and down continuously: up and draw an inch, down and jump again. Meanwhile the three of her friends standing around her advise, correct and debate her choices --- all talking simultaneously. At the same time nine other seven-year-olds work animatedly, in ones and twos, on the same problem around her on other parts of the blackboard. The students are here, doing mathematics, in The Math Circle. I have over thirty years experience teaching mathematics and I have never seen such a joy-filled, enthusiastic and intellectually and pedagogically productive classroom in my life."
Professor of Mathematics, Carleton College,
Book Acquisitions Editor, The Mathematical Association of America
"Are mathematical equations discovered or invented? Both. And neither. Actually, they are played like musical notes from the symphony of nature, and in The Math Circle, the equations come to life through this unique program, where mathematics is set free."
Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Science Salon podcast host, a Scientific American columnist
"Mathematics is a world of wonder and beauty, and in The Math Circle it is a delight for both teacher and students."
Carter Professor of Mathematics, Colby College, and
Mathematical Association of America’s MAA Reviews, Former Editor