Math Teachers' Enrichment Program

At the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at Western University, we are committed to nurturing a deep appreciation for mathematics and empowering educators to inspire the next generation of mathematicians. We are excited to introduce our outreach program tailored for high-school and primary teachers.

In tandem with our existing outreach programs aimed at students, our focus has expanded to strengthen relationships with math teachers in our community. The Math Teachers' Enrichment program is designed to enhance and broaden the mathematical knowledge and teaching skills of math educators. As we recognize the crucial role teachers play in shaping students' mathematical journeys, this program is our way of supporting and empowering them with the tools they need to excel in their classrooms.

The Structure of Sessions:

This series will run in the form of two-hour-long session meetings. Each session will comprise two primary segments, with the flexibility to explore additional ideas:

  1. Mathematics Talks: During this segment, a member of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences will deliver a math talk designed to spark interest in exploring new areas and fields within mathematics. These talks will also showcase captivating expansions on topics at present covered in classroom instruction, and share compelling mathematical history and stories.
  2. Math Learning and Teaching Dialogue: In this part, we will actively encourage teachers to voice their concerns regarding their students' learning experiences and teaching methods or participate in discussions on math in university classes.

The program is run by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and it is supported by the Canadian Mathematics Society through the Endowment Grants.



Upcoming Session Information and Sign-up link.

We invite all math teachers to be part of this enriching program. Together, we can make a significant impact in promoting mathematical excellence and fostering a love for math in the next generation. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming sessions, registration details, and the exciting journey that awaits you as part of this program. Together, we will make math education extraordinary.

To ensure we provide the best experience, we kindly request that you register for the event. Your registration will help us prepare an ample supply of refreshments and snacks for the session. 


Sign up for the upcoming session

Here is more information about the upcoming session.

Experiencing Hyperbolic Geometry

Time and date: Thursday, May 9th, 2024
Location: MC 107 
Speaker: Michelle Hatzel and Dr. Yvon Verberne 
Abstract: Do you know of any plants or animals in nature that grow perfectly flat? Perhaps you know some that are almost flat? We bet you can’t name more than a couple.
The most common surfaces in nature are spherical–consider watermelon fruit or pistachio seeds–or hyperbolic, in that they curl or ruffle like a snail’s shell or kale leaves, or some combination of spherical and hyperbolic with only a bit of flatness here or there. The key foundational text of mathematics and geometry, The Elements by Euclid, was the collected and systematized knowledge of western mathematics up to about 300 B.C.E.; it did not include any study of curved surfaces. Nor was this oversight readily corrected. Mathematician and historian John Stillwell reports that “Until the 19th century, Euclid’s geometry enjoyed absolute authority, both as an axiomatic system and as a description of physical space” (Mathematics and Its History). This is not to say that mathematicians accepted Euclid’s take on geometry. Somewhat indirectly they were collectively working to uncover the mathematics of spherical and hyperbolic surfaces by questioning Euclid’s axiomatic system. Their quest focused on the fifth axiom of geometry, famous as the Parallel Postulate.
In this talk we will investigate this quest and how it led mathematicians to discover the missing so-called non-Euclidean geometries. We will focus on hyperbolic planes, so plan to immerse yourself in the unexpected realities of these ruffled and curling surfaces.

Future Sessions

We are planning to have a session per month until June 2024. You can find the dates and speakers for the sessions below.

Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2024
Title:  Experiencing Hyperbolic Geometry
Speaker: Michelle Hatzel and Dr. Yvon Verberne
Date: Thursday, June 13th, 2024
TitleViewing data management through the lens of scientific discovery
Speaker: Jennifer Peter

Previous Sessions

Interactive Theorem Proving

Time and date: Thursday, April 11th, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Location: MC 107 
Speaker: Dr. Chris Kapulkin 
Abstract: For many years, mathematicians have used computers to perform computations that inform their research and lead to new conjectures. More recently, computers have been used to verify correctness of proofs via software known as proof assistants. This talk will be an introduction to proof assistants, and we will in particular see how to formally verify some simple proofs (for example, that every natural number is either even or odd). Time permitting, we might speculate about how the increasing power of such tools might be combined with large language models, and what that may mean for the future of mathematics.

Getting your piece of the pie: fair division and fixed points

Time and date: Thursday, March 14th, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Location: MC 107 
Speaker: Dr. Taylor Brysiewicz
AbstractYou just made your world-famous pie for pi day, and everybody wants a piece. The problem is that your pie is not homogeneous: some parts have more strawberries, blueberries, apples, or are extra crispy; and those you plan to share it with have differing preferences. How can you make everybody happy?
In this talk, we will introduce the basic background of fair division problems, and discuss how mathematics (in particular, a result about fixed points) can save the day!

ChatGPT and Large Language Models: What must educators know?

Time and date: Thursday, February 15th, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Location: MC 107 
Speaker: Dr. Cristian Bravo Roman
Abstract: In an era where technology increasingly intersects with pedagogy, understanding the advancements and implications of artificial intelligence (AI) is crucial for educators, especially in the fields of mathematics and technology. This talk is designed to provide high school mathematics and technology teachers with a foundational understanding of ChatGPT and similar LLMs, their inherent limitations, and practical insights into how this emerging technology can shape and enhance the educational landscape. We will explore the underlying technology of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, focusing specifically on the Transformer architecture. We will demystify these complex models for a non-specialist audience, providing a clear understanding of how they process and generate human-like text, differentiating them from traditional computational models. The presentation also addresses the limitations and ethical considerations of LLMs, including biases in training data and the potential for misinformation. The talk concludes by discussing the implications for high school education, particularly in integrating these models into teaching methodologies and preparing students for an AI-augmented future, emphasizing the development of digital literacy and critical thinking skills. (This abstract was 95% written by ChatGPT) 

What do Actuaries Have to do with Running (or should it be Ruining) our Lives?

Time and date: Thursday, January 18th, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Location: MC 107 
SpeakerSteve Kopp
AbstractHave you ever seen the life expectations graph?  What kind of things influence how long a person is likely to live?  Have women always lived longer, on average, than men? What would you do if someone gave you $1000?  What do the number 1, 4, 9, 2 mean to you?  How do you make a mortgage more affordable? Is it better to save a lot earlier in your life or a little less but over a longer period of time?  Why do men and women get a different pension amount upon retirement and isn’t that gender discrimination?
 All of these questions (and more) will be answered during this presentation along with showing how actuaries play a role in their answers (believe it or not).

Getting the third degree. 

Time and date: Thursday, December 7th, 2023 at 5:00 pm
Location: MC 107 
SpeakerProfessor David Jeffrey
Abstract: The formula for solving the quadratic equation is a staple of every algebra class, but the general solution of a cubic is not. Is there a reason for this? In the 16th century, Cardano was horrified to discover that the beautiful formula (which he had stolen from Tartaglia) led him to square roots of negative numbers. It took another 100 years to sort out what was happening. I have been working with Maple on the best ways to solve cubic equations, and I shall show what is planned. The work was part of a USRA project for students Micaela Vancea and Victoria Quance.


Who is afraid of infinity? 

Time and date: Thursday, November 2nd, 2023. 5:00 pm
Location: Middlesex College Room 107
Speaker: Professor Masoud Khalkhali
AbstractIs the universe finite or infinite? Did it have a beginning, or has it always existed? What is the concept of infinity anyway, and does it truly exist? These are among the profound questions that philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, theologians, poets, and others have contemplated, yet without unanimous, definitive answers. In this talk, we will adopt a more modest approach. Instead of getting into these lofty inquiries, we'll direct our attention to the origins of mathematical problems related to infinity and explore some of the responses they've received from mathematicians.