February 28, 2014

‘Math Week’ will bring many challenges

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Little Egypt Math Week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will begin its third annual run next, March 3-7, bringing mathematical challenges and fun to campus and putting new twists on a longtime contest and scholarship event. 

Greg Budzban, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics in the College of Science, said math is an increasingly important subject for students of all ages. Little Egypt Math Week encourages students to embrace the challenge. 

“Mathematics really represents the economics of the Information Age we are living in,” Budzban said. “It is arguably the most critical foundation skill a student can have. 

“With Little Egypt Math Week, students have fun, they enjoy the competitions and many will compete for scholarships during our longtime annual Mathematics Field Day, which is part of the week and a major recruitment event for the University.” 

The week gets started in earnest on Tuesday, March 4, with the 57th annual Mathematics Field Day event. 

Sponsored by the Department of Mathematics and held at the SIU Arena, about 1,300 students from some 50 high schools in Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky will compete for various awards and scholarships by taking a rigorous mathematics test, designed by the Department of Mathematics faculty. 

The College of Science will again offer the Partial Tuition Waiver Award to the highest-scoring junior with a planned science major. The award is valued at up to $4,000 toward tuition during a four-year period. 

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, with awards presented at 2 p.m.  During the event, sophomores and juniors are invited to a special welcoming reception and pizza luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Old National Bank Saluki Lounge, SIU Arena, Room 30.  The event includes games, prizes and information on employment prospects for students majoring in mathematics, as well as scholarship information. 

Also as part of the event, Budzban is the scheduled speaker during a teachers’ program beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Roger & Sally Tedrick Auditorium in the Boydston Center Room 189, in the SIU Arena.  

For more information on Mathematics Field Day, contact Kathy Pericak-Spector, professor and chair of the event, at 618/453-6569 or Mathfd@siu.edu

Organizers will continue the week’s events at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, by posting this year’s Math Video Challenge on the department’s Facebook page

High school teams will then begin trying to solve the problem, with the first team uploading a video of it solving the problem winning a cash prize. 

The Saluki Math Scavenger Hunt dominates Thursday, March 6.  All SIU registered student organizations are eligible for the contest, which will lead them on a campus-wide quest for items, guided by various riddles about SIU history and mathematical clues along the way. Participating teams will meet at noon in the Student Center Auditorium. 

The event will involve teams roaming around campus as they solve a series of mathematical clues that lead to various buildings and offices.  Following the correct order, each office provides teams with the next clue they will need.  The first clues will be handed out at the noon meeting in the auditorium.  The math puzzles use nothing more than standard arithmetic, and require more cleverness than sophisticated math techniques, Budzban said.  All of the rules and directions will be explained at the meeting.

The team reaching the finish line first will receive $400, but all teams that make it to the finish line after the winner will have their names placed in a drawing for a second-place prize of $100.  Scavenger hunt teams can have two to four members, only. 

To register for the event, email Nancy Vale in the Department of Mathematics at nancyvale@math.siu.edu.  Put “Saluki Math Scavenger Hunt” in the subject line and include the name of your RSO and the name and email address of the team’s contact person in the email.