Undergraduate student update

Posed photo of the undergraduate students in mathematics.

This year, the Department of Mathematics hosted several successful student recruitment events. Elgin Johnston, professor, and Steve Butler, associate professor, coordinated the Iowa State Math Circle, which engages 10 to 20 high school students twice a month on Saturdays. Students work on a single complex problem for two and a half hours, which encourages them to think and work like a mathematician.

Another successful outreach program at ISU was the Great Plains Math League. Nearly 120 students from 15 high schools participated. A great way to get students on campus, many college students who are now majoring in mathematics participated in these competitions in high school.

“We will be starting our Student Math Circle again soon and are looking forward to working with several enthusiastic, math-loving middle and high school students,” Johnston said.

Last spring, Johnston and Butler also coordinated a problem-solving group for undergraduate students that encouraged them to submit their answers to journals for a chance at being published. The group was “a good way for undergraduates to experience problem solving,” Johnston said.

Undergraduate students also participated in the Putnam Mathematics Competition in December 2015, where they competed against schools like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard. During the competition, students were given 12 questions with six hours to complete them. One ISU student finished in the top 100. Johnston said students who answer just one question correctly are already in the top quarter of the country.