RC Students + MAA Conference = Crazy Fun!

by rahmoeller on April 22, 2016

The weekend of April 15, five Roanoke College students and three faculty members traveled to Germantown, MD to attend the Spring MAA Sectional Meeting, which was held at Montgomery College. This conference attracts a wide variety of mathematicians from MD, DC, and VA. Some are more applied mathematicians, some are more pure mathematicians, most are researchers, most are educators- all are fun, interesting people!

Our students were highly involved in this conference! Three of the students- Justin Giguere, Anderson Lidz, and Taylor Ferebee- formed the Roanoke College Jeopardy Team!


They certainly brought a competitive edge to the game!! They also might have had the loudest fan section…

This was Anderson’s first time attending an MAA Sectional Meeting. He says,

“Generally, I am not someone who likes to work on teams. However, Math Jeopardy provides an opportunity to see where you and the school stand competing against other institutions. The questions were interesting and generally challenging. It is certainly a worthwhile experience that I would be glad to do again.”

Taylor, for which this was her second MAA Sectional Meeting, says,

“Jeopardy is always a favorite of mine. It is fun testing mathematical knowledge, especially when there is a surprise of a cubed root in the form of an infamous rapper.”

She’s referring to one surprising category in their Jeopardy game- Common Math Terms. For each level in this category, images would pop up on the screen and the students had to figure out which common math term was being described by these images. For example, imagine an image of the rapper Ice Cube and immediately after a picture of a root. Put them together and you get…cube root! Clever!!

Another big part of this conference was the Radical Dash- a mathematical, mini Amazing Race. At each station, each team is faced with a challenge- some are physical and most are mental.

Four of the students in attendance- Taylor Ferebee, Anderson Lidz, Beckie Muolo, and Jason Karaffa- formed the Roanoke College Radical Dash Team.MAAConf3MAAConf4

Taylor mentions the activities in the competition-

“Radical dash this year was quite the challenge. We completed tesslagrams, queens takeover, and played a round of 24! I really enjoyed the game of 24. Even though arithmetic is not my strong suit, it was fun being able to manipulate it in order to create 24.”

Anderson really enjoyed the Radical Dash because “the problems were more abstract and introspective, allowing you to work alone, together. We were introduced to the three queens problem, which I have still been unable to solve but is very interesting, probably for this very reason. We also had problems relating to counting and geometry.”

Scattered in-between these friendly competitions were math talks, given by both faculty and students. Saturday morning’s Invited Address speaker was our very own Dr. David Taylor, speaking about A Potpourri of Mathematics in Popular Games. 

The students enjoyed the talks, saying:

Taylor- “My favorite talk was from an applied mathematician, who was researching the movement of bacteria. Being a mathematics and physics major, it was great to be able to understand her talk on multiple levels.”

Anderson- “The talks provide an excellent measurement for where you are and where you would like to be. Most were given to be understood at the undergraduate level, with talks varying in complexity. Some professors were far more lucid than others in their exposition. Topics varied greatly, from algebraic methods of voter manipulations to linear recursion to modeling population biology. Overall, the talks were diverse and passionate, providing a gentle introduction into what some mathematicians researching. The community as a whole provides a positive atmosphere reminds you how much more interesting math there really is to know.

Beckie- “I gained a greater understanding of mathematics and the interesting topics that are not typically advertised in math, like rainbows.”

Justin- “I really enjoyed the automata in video games talk. Also…JEFF!!”

We had a great weekend- full of mathematics, humor, and good food!!