UM-Flint welcomes high school students to 51st “Math Field Day”

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High school participants at a recent UM-Flint "Math Field Day"
High school participants at a recent UM-Flint "Math Field Day"

One-hundred and twenty high school students will compete in mathematics March 2 on the UM-Flint campus. The university is hosting and running its 51st annual Math Field Day, which includes a series of individual and team challenges.

The Mathematics Department event is way to celebrate math, have fun, and give high school students a chance to be on a college campus. There are twenty-four schools participating this year, from throughout Michigan, and one from Ontario, Canada. The day-long event includes a series of competitions in French Hall and the Murchie Science Building.

All of the math faculty at UM-Flint are involved in running the event, said professor Shu-Yi Tu, who is director of Math Field Day. It is truly a team effort, she said.

“All faculty are divided into groups to write problems for various events and proofread each other’s work,” Tu said. “On the day of the event, almost all faculty members, including some retired faculty, devote their day during spring break to help proctor or judge students’ talks.”

Professor Kenneth Schilling, who has been in the math department and involved in the event for three decades, said the day is centered on creativity.

“We try to design problems that are not routine, and require serious thought. We try to design problems that require some creativity,” Schilling said. “The students have a good time. The competition is a format to think about mathematics and have some fun with it.”

Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company, an actuarial and benefits consulting firm, sponsors the event. Its longstanding support helps the Mathematics Department offer the event free of charge to the student teams.

Sixteen UM-Flint students are volunteering at the competition.

“Some students take this event as a great chance to work closer with high school students before their actual student teaching experiences,” Tu said. “I have seen them have conversations with high school advisors to get advice on job searching and teaching. Through the whole day event, our student volunteers also feel they are more connected to their professors outside the classroom.”

Robert is a staff writer in University Communications & Marketing. Contact him with comments, questions, and story ideas.