Math Circle Event Provides Opportunity for Prospective Students, NWU Students to Collaborate

Students collaborate on a math problem before sharing their proposed answers with the group.
Area high school students join NWU students for a math circle.

Students from high schools in Lincoln gathered at Nebraska Wesleyan University to participate in a “math circle.”

A math circle gives students the chance to practice math in collaborative exploration, instead of lecture. The moderator presents a problem, puzzle or idea and the group is given time to engage in the topic before sharing ideas as a group.

Austin Mohr, assistant professor of mathematics, designed the late February math circle. His goal was to have students work through problems by brainstorming and experimenting, rather than applying provided formulas.

One of the problems posed to students: If you chose any six people from anywhere in the world, there will always be either three mutual strangers or three mutual acquaintances. Why is this true and how can you prove it?  

The Mathematics Department designed the math circle to give high school students the opportunity to visit campus and interact with NWU students and faculty.

“The students were able to meet all of our full-time faculty and several of our majors,” said Mohr. “We hope the experience convinced them that Wesleyan is a vibrant, welcoming community in which to study mathematics.”