Math Circle Summer Institute

During the event, Amanda Serenevy and Leo Goldmakher will talk about the annual Summer Institute for leaders of Math Circles created by Robert and Ellen Kaplan.


Full recording: voice, text chat, web tours


All Math 2.0 events are free and open to the public. Information about all events in the series is here:

Wednesday, September 15th 2010 we will meet in the LearnCentral public Elluminate room at 6:30pm Pacific / 9:30pm Eastern time. WorldClock for your time zone.


To join:
  • Follow this link:
  • Click "OK" and "Accept" several times as your browser installs the software. When you see Elluminate Session Log-In, enter your name and click the "Login" button
  • You will find yourself in a virtual room. An organizer will be there to greet you, starting about half an hour before the event.
If this is your first Elluminate event, consider coming a few minutes earlier to check out the technology. The room opens half an hour before the event.

About Math Circles


The Math Circle is a program of courses founded in 1994, designed for students who enjoy math and want the added challenge of exciting topics that are normally outside the school curriculum. Its teachers are experienced, committed, and enthusiastic. Our classes encourage a free discussion of ideas; while the courses are mathematically rigorous, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.

Bob and Ellen Kaplan write: "Our approach in The Math Circle is to pose questions and let congenial conversation take over. Conjectures emerge from a free-for-all, examples and counterexamples from the conjectures. Two steps forward are followed by a step back. What really is at issue here? How will we know when we've understood something? Is proving different from seeing? Where and with what should proofs begin, and how validate these beginnings? And if we get it, need we formalize it? Yes - following my old fencing-master's adage about holding the foil like a bird: tightly enough not to let it get away, not so tightly as to crush it. We don't want a '6Os feel-good sense of math as expressive hand-waving. We explain that rigor without mortis consists in fluency at making a connected path back to foundations that will stand up to scrutiny. In our exchanges the students are developing the knack of pushing insight adventurously ahead while protecting the supply-lines that fuel it."

The second Math Circle Summer Teacher Training Institute was help on the Campus of Notre Dame, in South Bend Indiana, from July 5th to 11th, 2010. The Institute included demonstrations of Math Circles, practice sessions in running Math Circles, discussions of theory and practice, and conversations about selected math topics.
Robert Kaplan has worked on mathematics with people from four up, most recently at Harvard University. In 1994, with his wife Ellen, he founded at Harvard The Math Circle, a program, open to all comers, for the enjoyment of pure mathematics. He has also taught Philosophy, Greek, German, Sanskrit and Inspired Guessing. He is the author of The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero (Oxford 2000), and with his wife, The Art of the Infinite: The Pleasures of Mathematics (Oxford 2003), and Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free (Oxford 2007). Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem, will be published by Bloomsbury Press in January 2011. He lives with his wife in Massachusetts, but plays cricket for the Grange Club in Scotland, where he first became acquainted with naught.

Although Ellen Kaplan was a classical archaeologist through graduate school at Harvard and in Germany, she has taught Biology, Greek & Latin, and the history of many places and times. She began teaching Mathematics to integrate an all-male department, but was so delighted by the breadth and depth of the field that she ended up co-founding the Math Circle with her husband, illustrating his book, The Nothing That Is (Oxford 2000), and writing The Art of the Infinite and Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free (Oxford 2003 and 2007 respectively) with him. Their Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem, will be published by Bloomsbury Press in January 2011. With their son Michael she has written Chances Are . . . Adventures in Probability (Viking 2006), and Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err Is Human (Bloomsbury). They are at work on their third book. For more details, see Who's Who in America.
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Event Hosts

Amanda Serenevy holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Indiana University South Bend and a PhD in mathematics from Boston University. In 2007, she completed a PhD dissertation on the dynamics of networks of inhibitory neurons in the hippocampus. Amanda has published research on iterated matrix maps, and has additional research interests in geometric topology and mathematical origami.

Amanda has been active in math outreach for many years. She has presented hands-on math activities to a variety of audiences and has organized math fairs, math badge days for Girl Scouts, fractal workshops, and trainings for youth leaders and teachers. She also has experience working with college students as a tutor at the Pearson publishing company's call-in Tutor Center and as a math instructor at the University of Utah and Boston University. Amanda served as a teaching assistant and mentor for undergraduate math majors in the Summer Program for Women in Mathematics. During the 2002-2003 academic year, she and fellow graduate student Joyce Macabea obtained a grant to visit five universities with significant populations of minority students majoring in mathematics to tell the undergraduates there about research, graduate school, and careers in the sciences. Amanda has also been active with the Math Circle movement to connect mathematicians with young students interested in mathematics. Amanda served as a Math Circle instructor in Bob and Ellen Kaplan's Math Circle program in the Boston area. She continues to offer Math Circle classes in the South Bend area. In November 2006, Amanda accompanied a group of American mathematicians during a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg to learn about Russian math outreach programs.
Leo Goldmakher was a student of Bob and Ellen Kaplan in the original Math Circle class in 1994, and has been hooked on math ever since. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, where he engages in research (primarily in number theory) and teaches a variety of university courses. He was previously an instructor at the University of Michigan, as well as at the Math Circle in Boston. This summer, Leo was a co-director of the Math Circle Summer Institute, where he helped the program participants to develop engaging topics, and gave sample lessons to local children.