Students and teachers from nine area high schools attended Hood College’s 13th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for high school girls Oct. 11.
The event honors Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics. The event has been held at colleges and universities all around the country for approximately two decades.
SK Day was organized by the Hood College Department of Mathematics and generously supported by the continued funding from PNC Bank and Frederick County Public Schools. Visiting students met with Hood faculty and students for a day of mathematics workshops and to hear from a panel of women who use math everyday in their careers.
“We are so pleased to be continuing our relationship with both PNC Bank and FCPS in planning this event,” said Jill Tysse, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics. “PNC Bank has supported SK Math Day for the past four events, and FCPS has enthusiastically supported the event from the beginning.”
Hood 1989 graduate Stacey Collins was there to represent PNC Bank. Hood alumni Casey Rogers ’97, from Middletown High School; Darrin Drum, M.S.’13, from Walkersville High School; and Scott Trexler, M.S.’13, from Frederick High School, all attended this year’s event with their students.
The day started off with a welcome from President Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D.
“Although we have made great progress, the gender gap in mathematics remains,” she said. “Sonia Kovalevsky’s persistence in studying math despite significant barriers and lack of support is an inspiration to all female students interested in mathematics and related professions. I am proud that Hood, along with PNC Bank and FCPS, is able to share Sonia’s story with these high school students and provide them an opportunity to learn more about mathematics.”
Over the course of the day, the students attended several mathematics workshops led by Hood faculty. Gwyn Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, ran a workshop called “Mathe-magic!” where she showed students how to use the mathematics of permutations, modular arithmetic and other algebraic topics to perform tricks involving numbers, coins, cards and more.
Sara Malec, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, led an “Anamorphic Art” workshop that showed students the math behind different kinds of anamorphosis—an artistic technique used to produce art that must be viewed from a specific angle to be seen.
Taking a break from workshops, during lunch, the high school students heard Hood seniors Sarah Hood and Karina Stetsyuk present a talk on the life of Sonia Kovalevsky.
Following lunch, there was a career panel during which students had the opportunity to hear from women who use mathematics in their careers. Hood 2015 graduate Megan Mercer, a software engineer from iNovex Information Systems; Heather King, a statistician with the United States Census Bureau; and Amanda Forster, a materials research engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, all explained how they use math daily in their work.