University Relations and Communications

August 24, 2018


Math Circle and MAA logos


MSU Billings to host Fall 2018 Math Circle

Campus will hold seven sessions for students, parents and educators



University Relations and Communications, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings announces the fall 2018 dates of the Math Circle for students in the fourth-to-eighth grades, parents, and teachers. Seven sessions will be offered on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in LA 206, beginning September 12.


Mathematics is a fun and vibrant discipline with many avenues for exploration and creativity that has been built on a long, unbroken string of discoveries since the dawn of civilization. Today’s students are typically only taught a narrow slice of this great topic. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way; these more interesting topics are not necessarily more difficult than the standard curriculum and are accessible to students with an elementary background.


A national organization of Math Circles was started by mathematicians across the country to present fun and challenging problems to students for the purpose of developing their creativity and problem solving skills. Open ended problems are posed to students who then work with each other to find creative solutions to the problems they are presented. Rather than being taught a technique and then given problems to solve with said technique, students are encouraged to view the problems in their own light and develop their own solutions.


The schedule for the semester is as follows:

  • Sept. 12 Mobius Fun - A sheet of paper has 2 sides, if we cut it in half, we would get 2 sheets with 2 sides. If we glue the sheet into a cylinder, it would still have 2 sides, as would the pieces we cut from it. But does this always have to be true? Could we create a figure with less sides somehow?
  • Sept. 26 Rational Tangles - The natural world records mathematics in beautiful and unexpected ways. Here we will play a game holding pieces of rope and changing positions. As the ropes get more and more tangled, we will see math embedded in the knot in a surprising way.
  • Oct. 10 Exploding Dots - The week of 10/10 is Global Math Week. This week we will explore Exploding Dots, which takes the math you already know and transforms it into a new light, according to the Global Math Week’s Exploding Dots website.
  • Oct. 24 SET - What can a matching card game teach us about alternative geometries, modular arithmetic and 4-dimensional space? Come explore the deceptively deep mathematics behind this game!
  • Nov. 7 Cryptography - How do people keep their messages a secret? When you buy something from Amazon, why don’t people intercept your credit card number? We will explore different modes of encrypting messages, from the ancient world to state of the art!
  • Nov. 28 Collatz Tree - Pick a number in your head, if it’s even, divide it by 2, if it’s odd, multiply it by 3 then add 1. What happens if you keep doing this? Learn about the simplest to state, and yet unsolved problems in mathematics. Perhaps you can be the one to solve it!
  • Dec. 5 Holiday Math - In preparation for the Holiday Season and winter break, we revisit the strange art of folding paper. Can we make a figure with 3 sides, with 6? What sort of symmetries arise from doing so? Learn to make paper snowflakes which can transform themselves.

Drinks and snacks will be provided to participants in the sessions.


MSU Billings Math Circle is brought to you in part by The Mathematical Association of America and the Dolciani Foundation through the Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant. 


For more information contact Dr. Tien Chih at 657-2939 or