The UVa Math Ambassadors want the next generation of thinkers to know that mathematics stretches far beyond what they might be learning in school! We want everyone excited to learn about math and all its applications.

Our program sends graduate students from the University of Virginia Department of Mathematics to participate in mathematics outreach in our community. This includes visits to school science days and local classrooms to lead a fun, math-based activities. Our activities explore many high-level math concepts outside the standard curriculum, in an interactive and age-appropriate manner.

Contact our logistics coordinator Mike Reeks for more information or to set up a visit!

Sample activity: Euler characteristic

Our Euler characteristic activity introduces students to the branch of mathematics called topology. In topology, we don't think of shapes as being rigid. Instead, one imagines all shapes are made of clay, and two shapes are the same if one can be stretched or molded into the other, without breaking, cutting, or “gluing” the clay. The Euler characteristic of a shape can help us tell when one shape is (or isn't) just a stretched or molded version of another shape.

As part of this activity, students use origami or polydron sets to form Platonic solids and other shapes, and then compute the Euler characteristics of the shapes they create. (Hint: For any Platonic solid, the Euler characteristic is always the same!)

Download the handout for the Euler characteristic activity.

Faculty coordinator: Tai Melcher