At Hood College, we know that math isn’t just for men! We want girls to understand that math can be a fun, relevant, and attainable career. This fall, the college invited girls from nine local high schools for Sonia Kovalevsky Day, in honor of the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics. Begun in 1985 by the Association for Women in Mathematics and celebrated at colleges throughout the country, 2017 was Hood’s 14th year participating. Students attended several workshops, such as “How to be Instagram Famous!” where they examined the algorithms that run the social media site, and “Barbie Bungee”, where they calculated and tester the right amount of bungee to drop Barbie off of a balcony. They also played “The Game of Criss Cross” and used math to understand the patterns of the game. After lunch and a presentation about Kovalevsky from Hood student Kara Conway, they heard from a career panel of women who are actively working in the mathematics field, including several Hood alumnae.
Dr. Christy Danko Graybeal, Associate Professor at Hood and Director of the Mathematics Education and Mathematics Instructional Leadership graduate programs, has participated in this event for several years and led the “Barbie Bungee” workshop. She explains “I look forward to this each year. It’s a great way to show students that learning math can be fun and hopefully inspires some high school girls to pursue degrees in mathematics in college.” As founding president of the Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators and the College Level Representative on the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics, as well as editor of that organization’s journal, Dr. Graybeal wants other women to understand math as relevant to them. Hood President Andrea Chapdelaine welcomed the students to campus, and other Hood faculty took part as well, such as Associate Professor of Management David Gurzick, who led the Instagram workshop, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Jill Tyess, leader of “Criss Cross.”
Teachers at the participating high schools appreciate the opportunities events like this can lead to. Allie Blickenstaff, a Hood M.S. in Mathematics Education graduate, brings her students to Kovalevsky Day almost every year. “It is a great experience for girls to see other ways math can be used, both in careers and in other domains of math that they may not be introduced to at the high school level. It’s a fun day for my students to meet other girls interested in mathematics and explore other ways they can apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills. The career panel always gives great advice on programs of study in college, seeking out career opportunities, and on how math can be used in various jobs that the students may not already know.”