SOURCE: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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March 12, 2015 10:00 ET

National Math Festival Announces Expanded Schedule of More Than 40 Free Events From Antarctic Adventure, Minecraft to the Ring of Fire

Inaugural Festival Will Showcase Math in Action Along the National Mall on April 18

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 12, 2015) - The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) announced today many new featured presenters and an expanded schedule for the National Math Festival, to occur on April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in several Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.

The free public celebration, organized in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution, will feature more than 40 unique performances, interactive exhibits, lectures, and activities for all ages designed to inspire appreciation for the importance, beauty, and fun of math. Events will take place at the Smithsonian's Enid A. Haupt Garden, the S. Dillon Ripley Center, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African Art, and the Freer and Sackler Galleries, among others. 

Highlights include:

  • A virtual Antarctic expedition led by Dr. Kenneth Golden, an elite Explorers Club Fellow widely known as the "Indiana Jones of Mathematics."
  • A demonstration of "The Math Behind Minecraft," led by Joel Levin, who shows how the popular game can be used in the classroom.
  • A NOVA Labs simulation that lets teens visualize, analyze, and play with the same data that scientists use to predict solar storms and more. 
  • A Gracie & Friends iPad apps play session dedicated to early math learning for preschoolers.
  • Math Midway!, a nationally acclaimed exhibition offering more than 20 interactive exhibits including a Square-Wheeled Tricycle and the Ring of Fire
  • The first annual awarding of Mathical: Books for Kids from Tots to Teens, a new, national book prize recognizing the most inspiring math-related fiction and nonfiction books for young people of all ages presented by (MSRI) and the Children's Book Council (CBC).

Newly Scheduled Events!

  • A lesson on "How Not to Be Wrong" led by Dr. Jordan Ellenberg, who explains how mathematics can answer questions including: Who really won Florida in 2000? Why do tall parents have shorter children? How early should you get to the airport?
  • A discussion led by Dr. Arlie Petters about if cosmic shadows hold the answer to whether there is a fifth dimension.
  • MoSAIC Art Exhibition featuring prints, sculpture, clothing, and ceramics by some of the most creative math-inspired artists in the world.
  • A presentation by Black Girls CODE founder Kimberly Bryant, who works to inspire a new age of women of color in technology.
  • A discussion on the Curse of Lane 8 in BMX bicycle-racing with Dr. Richard A. Tapia, who has developed a solution for fairer lane assignments with the help of Rice University students.
  • A talk with New York Times columnist Dr. Steven Strogatz about his experience bringing "math to the masses."

Among the authors, artists, mathematicians, and researchers presenting at this year's Festival are:

  • Kimberly Bryant, founder, Black Girls CODE
  • Dr. Kenneth Golden, 10-time Arctic explorer, fellow of the Explorers Club, and professor of mathematics and adjunct professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah
  • Dr. Jeff Goldstein, astrophysicist and director of the National Center for Earth and Space Science
  • Dr. Mimi Koehl, professor of integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley and MacArthur Genius Fellow
  • Joel Levin, co-founder of TeacherGaming and creator of MinecraftEdu 
  • Dr. Arlie Petters, founder of mathematical astronomy and the Benjamin Powell Professor of Mathematics, Physics, and Business Administration at Duke University
  • Dr. Steven Strogatz, the Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University and author of many books, including his latest, "The Joy of x"
  • Dr. Richard Tapia, Rice University mathematician, longtime champion of diversity in U.S. education, and National Medal of Science recipient 
  • Dr. Mariel Vazquez, mathematical biologist and CAMPOS Professor of Mathematics, Microbiology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis

Leading up to the Festival, math fans across the country are invited to participate in the #ISpyMath online challenge. Launching on this year's Pi Day (March 14, the day corresponding with the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter -- which is approximately 3.14159) through March 28, participants will be challenged to share photos and videos of "math in action" on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #ISpyMath. More about #ISpyMath, including challenge guidelines, is available here.

The National Math Festival has received generous support from: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Google, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Simons Foundation, The Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and IBM. Additional support is provided by: National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), NOVA, and Elwyn and Jennifer Berlekamp Foundation.

For more information on the National Math Festival, visit, connect on Facebook, or follow the Festival on Twitter @mathmoves.

About the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is one of the world's preeminent centers for collaborative research in mathematics. Since 1982, MSRI's topic-focused programs have brought together emerging and leading minds in mathematics, in an environment that promotes creativity and the interchange of ideas. Over 1,500 mathematical scientists spend time at MSRI's California headquarters each year. MSRI is known around the world for the quality and reach of its programs and its leadership in basic research, and also in mathematics education and in the public understanding of mathematics. 

About the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS)

The Institute for Advanced Study, founded in 1930 as an independent institution in Princeton, New Jersey, is one of the world's leading centers for basic research in the sciences and humanities, where the permanent faculty and visiting scholars have the freedom to pursue some of the deepest theoretical questions without pressure for immediate outcomes. Its reach has been multiplied many times over through the more than 7,000 scholars who have influenced entire fields of study as well as the work and minds of colleagues and students.

About the Smithsonian Institution (SI)

Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. The Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. There are 6,400 Smithsonian employees and 5,500 volunteers. There were 28 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2014. The total number of objects, works of art, and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 138 million, including more than 126 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.

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