LSU Math Circle Enhances High Schoolers' Passion for Math

Math Circle, Summer 2017

Math Circle Summer Program, Class of 2017Photo Credit: Nicki Button, LSU College of Science

The LSU College of Science Department of Mathematics hosted it’s 11th annual Math Circle Summer Program, a four-week long summer program for high school students that are passionate about mathematics. Executive Director Steven Olsen along with two teachers, gave students a taste of college level mathematics and helped them form and complete research projects. This year’s circle consisted of 22 students. 
For the first three weeks, graduate students and professors gave the students hands-on learning activities in their areas of research, along with fun activities like Math Battles and a Mock Casino to test students’ speed and probability skills. During the last week of the program, students pair up with their graduate mentor to complete a research project and poster. There were nine poster presentations this year, with six of them being group presentations and three being individual presentations.  
“I really enjoyed the program because I could talk to professors and gain research experience,” said Sierra Crowe, a senior from Tennessee. Crowe would like to attend LSU and is thinking about getting a degree in accounting. Her project focused on peoples’ behavior when rolling dice at casinos because she wanted to do something that was more relatable to people. Crowe recommends always betting on seven at the Craps table with two dice. 
Ali Marzoughi, Evonne Yang and Dylan Spedale worked on their Dilone Cipher project, which has to do with encrypting a message. Yang’s main interest is art, so she enjoyed using permutations to make the ciphers. Spedale, who would like to pursue a career in chemical engineering, said participating in the Math Circle was definitely worth it for him.  
“It showed me another side of math, which is good since I’m trying to advance myself,” said Spedale. “I met amazing people, and the instructors were really nice.” 
Marzoughi was the main coder in the project as she knows computer languages such as Python, Java, Matlab and Mathematica. She grew up knowing about coding because of her father, Dr. Hassan Marzoughi, who is currently a PhD student in ISDS at LSU.  
“He started with Matlab in elementary school and since then he was always interested in coding and computers,” explained Marzoughi. “It was hard to separate him from the computer. Sometimes he didn’t take his dinner because he was on the computer and we would find it the next morning.”  
Julian Rovee, whose father is a professor at LSU, thought the Math Circle was a good program. The coolest thing he learned was that when a cube is cut, it reveals a hexagon and a hybercube, when a fourth dimension like time is added, reveals a tetrahedron. Rovee’s project was Whitney Twists where he used matroids to see if there was an upper bound on the Whitney Twists. His study revealed that there is never more than n-2.  
Rohin Gilman and Lance Myers teamed up for their project on Latin Square/ Sudoku Cube, which is a modified Rubik’s Cube. They wanted to find out how many solutions were possible with using Rubik’s Cube moves. They solved the problem by using Mathematica and then manually manipulated the cubes, including the application of stickers.  
Seventh grader Alex Wu and ninth grader Ethan Sanni-Thomas teamed up for their project on Graphing the NBA where they wanted to find out the probability a team would experience a certain situation. They gathered five seasons of data and graphed the number of wins versus the probability of the situation. They found that rebounds, turnovers and free throws did not have much effect on the wins as goals did.  
The Math Circle competition team is now meeting for the 2017-2018 school year! The team meets every Sunday from 11:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. for math and from 3 p.m.  to 4:40 p.m. for coding in Prescott Hall, Room 205. Practices are free and open to any interested 8th to 12th grade students. For more information and to register, visit
You can also follow the Math Circle on Facebook and Instagram.