Future female math and science students to visit SU

Female high school students across the Central New York area are counting the days until they can participate in a festival full of isosceles triangles and lab experiments.

The Syracuse University department of mathematics will be hosting the fifth-annual Sonia Kovalevsky Festival on Nov. 15 as a way to draw more young female students into the field of mathematics and science.

Every high school in Onondaga County was invited to choose at least five students to represent their school in the daylong festival. Approximately 45 to 50 students will be attending this year’s event.

The festival is named after the first woman to receive a doctorate degree in mathematics in 1874. The festival hopes to keep the interest of female students so that they can follow in Kovalevsky’s footsteps.

Traditionally, math majors are predominantly male, and the purpose of the event is to show female high school students that they can succeed in math and science careers.

Marjory Baruch, a mathematics and computer science professor, is organizing this year’s event. Baruch was the only female math major in her undergraduate study and hopes that this event will allow female students to indulge in their personal math interests.

‘The reality of our society right now [is that] many girls still don’t realize that there are many opportunities in math,’ Baruch said.

The festival will consist of several workshops run by women in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, physics, architecture, bioengineering and neuroscience. Students will be able to choose two 80-minute workshops where they will take an in-depth look at the different areas of math and science. The students will do hands-on exercises that include building models and lab experiments. Between workshops, students will work on mathematical puzzles and games.

One of the workshops planned will be run by Ana De Bettencourt-Dias, an assistant professor in chemistry.

Students will determine the amount of active ingredients within aspirin tablets in the chemistry workshop, De Bettencourt-Dias said.

De Bettencourt-Dias is most excited about seeing the level of scientific knowledge in the students. Many of the professors running the workshops have a limited opportunity to work with a younger age group.

Co-organizing the event is Douglas Anderson, chairman of the department of mathematics. In years past, the girls involved in the festival have had fun and have learned something, Anderson said.

‘[The festival] is an event that I very much believe in, and it is really energizing,’ Anderson said.

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