International Math Outreach Workshop (15w5101)
Melania Alvarez (Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences / University of British Columbia)
Helene Barcelo (Mathematical Sciences Research Institute)
Jean-Marie De Koninck (Mitacs)
Matheus Grasselli (Fields Institute)
Janine McIntosh (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute)
Luc Vinet (University of Montreal)
Let us add that there are many other initiatives which were created for the purpose of pure entertainment, but which nevertheless have contributed to popularize mathematics. These include, for instance: -- The weekly television series "Numbers", with over 11 million viewers, which shows that mathematics can end up being very useful in solving crime mysteries. -- The Simpsons', a comic show on television, whose creators have a degree in mathematics from Harvard. One will notice that in the dialog, some famous math problems emerge, such as Fermat's Last Theorem and a discussion on perfect numbers, narcissitic numbers and Mersenne primes, all important number theory features.All of the above activities have proven to be successful in creating interest for mathematics or showing that mathematics is important in our society. Some of these are being picked up outside the countries they were developed in; such is the case of the Three Minute Thesis. However, most of these activities are not known outside the countries they were initiated in. But it seems clear that most (if not all) could be very beneficial to kids and to the general public in other countries, perhaps after some adjustment in order to adapt them to the local culture.The purpose of this International Math Outreach Workshop is therefore to bring together the leaders in math outreach from all over the world as well as those interested in benefiting from the experience of the leaders in the domain, to have them share their successful experiences as well as the difficulties they encountered, to explore how by simply sharing ideas most could benefit from the experience of others, to build networking in outreach and to explore the possibility of expanding existing activities and of creating new ones.We certainly plan to obtain as well the participation of science journalists and some high school students.Here is a partial list of goals that we plan to achieve in this workshop:1) Have the participants share the outreach programs they feel were successful in creating interest for math and science in their communities. These activities might include games, fairs, theater plays, excursions, math camps, public performances, publications, special lectures, etc.2) Have participants discuss what makes particular outreach activities successful as well as what the ongoing or unresolved challenges are (sponsorship, staff, publicity, types of needed expertise, location/logistics, budget, scheduling, media coverage, technical, ongoing momentum, etc.)3) Discuss outreach experiences that were successful in getting women and minorities to consider mathematical sciences as a career option.4) Present success stories in partnering with the media, with business people, with celebrities, etc.5) Consider how and where it might be possible to partner on existing successful programs (translate, host, financially support, handle local logistics, etc.)6) Examine the possibility of building joint international outreach activities.7) (Very ambitious) Explore the possibility of finding an international sponsor that would support a particular activity (math contest, international math camp, or other). Perhaps Boeing, Microsoft, Apple, etc.?Here are some comments on this project made by key world leaders interested by math outreach:-- Nick Woodhouse (president of the Clay Math Institute) wrote: "This sounds a very interesting idea... you can certainly say that CMI is interested in being involved in the workshop..." -- Peter Trapa (MSRI) wrote: "The BIRS workshop you are proposing sounds very timely, and I could easily imagine several people associated with Math Circles (including those working directly with the National Association of Math Circles) participating." -- Marcus du Sautoy (Clay Math Institute) wrote: "Thanks for the heads up about this. It would certainly be a meeting that would benefit the community. Even within the UK I think that many people aren't aware of the whole range of activities that go on. It would be a great forum for people to learn what, how and why certain activities are so successful." -- Chris Budd (vp of UK IMA) wrote: "I am very excited by this plan and want to give you my fullest support. Your list of topics looks excellent to me."Although there are many international meeting on math education held each year all over the world, it is very rare that we hear of any meeting on math outreach. Therefore, we believe that holding an International Math Outreach Workshop is long overdue and that it will greatly benefit the international mathematics community.