"Robinson was the first woman to be elected to the mathematics section of the National Academy of Sciences, the first woman to serve as president of the American Mathematical Society and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She achieved all of this despite not being granted an official faculty position until about a decade before her death in 1985."
"JRMFs are locally organized events intended to inspire K-12 students to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through problem solving. Founded in 2007 by Silicon Valley native and math puzzle enthusiast, Nancy Blachman, JRMFs are collaborative, community-friendly mathematics festivals intended to serve as an alternative to competitions for getting students — especially girls and underrepresented minority students — and their surrounding communities engaged in mathematics."
"As a longtime teacher, I wanted kids to see math’s wonders and usefulness every day. This meant that math traveled beyond math class. We looked at it in history, in newspaper headlines, in home research. From Paul Revere’s ride to the temperature at Richard Byrd’s Antarctic base camp to cookie recipes, every day has a myriad of mathematical possibilities and wonder."
“Giving them the chance to come and enjoy a festival like this one opens up a new way of seeing the world and might open up new possibilities in their lives,” said Kirsteen Bohl, with the National Math Festival.
“We love the idea that it’s named after a female mathematician being that we’re an all-girls school. We liked the idea of just coming together and engaging in fun creative problem-solving in a collaborative way.
The festival goes against the stereotype of a mathematician sitting alone in a room, solving problems by themselves. It’s about collaborating and solving problems together."
"These problems are designed to solicit deep thinking and require students to try multiple solution strategies, collaborate, propose and test conjectures, and communicate ideas using valid mathematical arguments. At the end of the school year, the math circle concludes with a Julia Robinson Math Festival, a full day of problem solving, games, and prizes, all related to math!"
"The exposure to problems that were so different and complex required them to think creatively and again enabled them to have some exciting “ah-ha” moments. One student stated towards the end of the event that they felt like a lot of the problems were interconnected…a really interesting comment that proved they were finding patterns within the patterns."
"Personally, I believe that everyone can love mathematics. At its core, math is about asking questions, exploring possibilities, and overcoming challenges — things that humans crave at a very basic level. "
"The festivals now take place at several locations throughout the US, and typically feature over two dozen tables with thought-provoking activities, puzzles, games and problems. Unlike in more standard competitive contests, here collaboration is actively encouraged, and this plays to the children’s natural instincts and strengths. "
"Bentley hosted its first annual Julia Robinson Math Festival on Saturday, March 2nd. What a tremendous success! Over 130 students attended, and not just from Bentley. For over three hours the gym was packed with students playing with mathematical games, tackling puzzles, and engaging with mathematics with gusto and in unexpected ways."
“If you want to put it in basketball terms.” Festival co-organizer Joshua Zucker is explaining to me the difference between kids doing math “exercises,” which he says comprise the majority of schoolwork these days, and “problem solving.” Please, I encourage him, put it in basketball terms. “Exercises are like dribbling down an empty court. Problem solving, that's like dribbling down a court with a defender on you. Computers do exercises – we want kids to learn how to think.”