Sonia Kovalesvsky

Sonia Kovalevsky

Math Day 2008

Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics Day

Mathematical patterns in the world around us

Through the Women in Mathematics and Statistics Endowment, Hollins University sponsors a fun-filled day of mathematical activities for young women enrolled in high school mathematics courses in the Roanoke Valley. Our activities focus on the beauty, fun, and applicability of mathematics as well as the importance of mathematics in every day life.

The day carries the name of Sonia Kovalevsky, a famous Russian mathematician born in 1850. Sonia's mathematical life began early as she studied her father's old calculus notes that were pasted on her nursery walls as replacement for wallpaper! Throughout her life, Sonia faced many obstacles but remained committed to the study of mathematics. Her brilliant career included publication of ten papers in mathematics and mathematical physics.

We honor Sonia by planning a day that encourages young women to continue their study of mathematics and that will allow them a small glimpse into the excitement and applicability of mathematics.



Tasty Sampling: Have you ever wondered how many of the Hershey Reese's pieces candies are orange? In this mini-class we'll use M&M's, Reese's Pieces, Goldfish and the Gettysburg address to learn about sampling techniques, sample sizes, and the predictable patterns that result from random sampling.

Secret Codes: Cryptography is an important application of mathematics and in fact, the National Security Agency employs many mathematicians. In this mini-class, students are introduced to cryptography and investigate letter frequency patterns in simple ciphers. Working in groups, students mathematically decode secret messages.

Mathematics Scavenger Hunt: Students hunt through the Dana Science Building as they uncover mathematical clues and complete mathematical tasks. Prizes will be awarded for best time, best solutions, etc.

Ferns, Snowflakes, Giraffe Spots and Crime Sprees - Mathematical Patterns in the World Around Us: Have you ever looked really closely at a fern leaf? Or wondered about the design of a giraffe's markings? Researchers today believe that many phenomena in the world around us can best be understood using simple mathematics. After this lecture, you will be convinced that the voice of nature really is mathematics.