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Oct. 31: Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics Day

Monday, October 31, 2016

FREDERICK, Md.—Students and teachers from nine area high schools attended Hood College’s 13th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for high school girls Oct. 11.

The day’s activities were organized by the math department and generously supported with funding from PNC Bank and Frederick County Public Schools. Visiting students met with Hood students and faculty for a day of mathematics workshops and to hear about careers involving math from a panel of women who use math in their jobs.

After a welcome from President Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D., the students attended several mathematics workshops. Gwyn Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, ran a workshop called “Mathe-magic!” where she showed students how to use the mathematics of permutations, modular arithmetic and other algebra topics to perform tricks involving numbers, coins, cards and more. Sara Malec, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, led an “Anamorphic Art” workshop in which the students explored the math behind different kinds of anamorphosis—an artistic technique used to produce art that must be viewed from a specific angle to be seen. In a “Godzilla Resurgence” workshop run by Nelson Palmer, adjunct instructor in mathematics, students used mathematics to figure out if it is physically possible for a monster of Godzilla’s size to exist. Claire Hudson, coastal studies semester coordinator, ran a workshop in which students discussed the importance of monitoring for algal blooms in coastal environments and learned how to use math to determine the concentration of plankton in a sample.

During lunch, Hood seniors Sarah Hood and Karina Stetsyuk presented a talk on the life of Sonia Kovalevsky. A career panel followed lunch, and students heard from Hood 2015 graduate Megan Mercer, a software engineer from iNovex Information Systems; Heather King, a statistician with the United States Census Bureau; and Amanda Forster, a materials research engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Three Hood College alumni—Casey Rogers ’97, Darrin Drum, M.S.’13 and Scott Trexler, M.S.’13—who are now teachers for FCPS, brought their students to participate in SK Day. Hood 1989 graduate Stacey Collins was there to represent PNC Bank. PNC has been supporting this initiative since spring 2013.

Sonia Kovalevsky Days have been held at colleges and universities all over the country for approximately two decades. These events honor Russian mathematician, Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics, and are designed to encourage and celebrate young women in their mathematical studies.