Kerrie Brecheisen
Department of Math

K-12 students to attend 'Mathematics, Magic and Mystery'

Fri, 04/04/2014

LAWRENCE – More than 200 elementary, junior high and high school students from area schools will be on the University of Kansas campus in April to participate in Mathematics Awareness Month activities.

Each year, the Department of Mathematics organizes competitions and workshops for the students. This year’s national theme is Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery.

The math competition will take place Saturday, April 5, in 406 Snow Hall. Prizes will be awarded to the top students in each category. The competition has three levels: third through fifth grades, middle school and high school.  

From magic squares and Möbius bands to magical card tricks and illusions, mysterious phenomena with elegant “Aha!” explanations have permeated mathematics for centuries. Such brain-teasing challenges promote creative and rational thinking, attract a wide range of people to the subject and often inspire serious mathematical research.

The theme of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014 echoes the title of a 1956 book by renowned author Martin Gardner, whose extensive writings introduced the public to hexaflexagons, polyominoes, John Conway’s “Game of Life,” Penrose tiles, the Mandelbrot set and more. For more than a half-century, Gardner inspired enthusiasts of all ages to engage deeply with mathematics, and many of his readers chose to pursue it as a career. The year 2014 marks the centennial of his birth.

A workshop for fifth-graders from Auburn Washburn in Topeka and Broken Arrow and Hillcrest elementary schools, Lawrence, will demonstrate how math is used in everyday life. Workshops for those schools will be April 8, 9 and 16, respectively.

Along with activities and contests for schoolchildren, the math department also schedules a number of guest speakers throughout the month for the KU community. These talks are addressed to the general public.

The public is invited to participate in any of the activities. For more information on all of the Math Awareness 2014 events, contact Kerrie Brecheisen, administrative associate senior, Department of Mathematics, at (785) 864-3651 or by email

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