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Oct. 10: 14th Annual Sonia Kovalevsky Day

FREDERICK, Md.—Students and teachers from nine area high schools attended Hood College’s 14th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for high school girls Oct. 10.

The day’s activities were organized by the math department and generously supported with funding from PNC Bank and Frederick County Public Schools. Visiting students met with Hood students and faculty for a day of mathematics workshops and to hear about careers involving math from a panel of women who use math in their jobs.

After a welcome from President Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D., the students attended several mathematics workshops. Christy Graybeal, Ph.D., associate professor of education and mathematics, led a workshop called “Barbie Bungee,” in which students used mathematical modeling to predict the appropriate length of a bungee cord for Barbie and then tested the prediction by giving Barbie a push off the balcony. David Gurzick, Ph.D., associate professor of management, presented “How to Become Instagram-Famous!” in which he discussed the algorithms that the most popular social networks use to drive and enhance the user experience. Jill Tysse, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, led “The Game of Criss-Cross,” in which students played a paper-and-pencil game and used math to investigate patterns they found within the game.

During lunch, Hood junior Kara Conway presented a talk on the life of Sonia Kovalevsky. A career panel followed lunch, and students heard from Hood 2016 graduate Catherine Traini, a security consultant from Nobus, a FedData company; Jeanine May, a biostatistician manager with Emmes Corporation; Hood 1976 graduate Patricia Ropp, senior data analyst with MMI Direct; and Adele Merritt, adviser for Redacted.

Fred Genau and Hood 1989 graduate Stacey Collins were there to represent PNC Bank. PNC has been supporting this initiative since spring 2013.

Sonia Kovalevsky Days were initially introduced by the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) in 1985, and have been held at colleges and universities all over the country in the years since. These events honor Russian mathematician, Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics, and are designed to encourage and celebrate young women in their mathematical studies.