Math majors embrace Geek Week
by Heidi Heater, a sophomore from Jackson, Ky.
WILMORE, KY—Math is more than number crunching, algebraic equations and complicated word problems. Math can also be flying paper airplanes and building origami figures. The week of Oct. 30-Nov. 3 the math department at Asbury College sponsored “Geek Week” in an effort to show the practical, but fun side of math.
Sophomore Jonathan Butcher from Marietta, Ga., feels it is important for students to realize that math is fun. “Math is not something to fear,” he said. “It can actually be a lot of fun if you use it for different things besides calculating numbers.”
He admits that most people breathe a sigh of relief on the last day of math class. However, he believes it is possible to learn more in a difficult class because it requires you to think constantly.
Dr. Duk Lee, math professor and director of the origami portion of the week, said, “I hope that through Geek Week people see that math is not a boring subject. Math is challenging, but it is not just number crunching. It is live. It is creating something new.”
Lee went on to say that most consider origami a childish pastime, but that many famous origamists are also architects, mathematicians, engineers or scientists. Lee cited that the Microsoft Company used origami principles to make their pocket-sized computers.
Sophomore Kelly Christensen from Canfield, Ohio, has enjoyed promoting Geek Week. “We’re kind of proud of our geekyness, so we’re spreading the joy,” she said. “Math really does have a purpose. I am fascinated with math modeling or equations that represent real life events. These problems predict everything from what consumers will buy to the path of a hurricane strike."
Through the activities, Dr. David Coulliette, professor of mathematics and chair of the math department, hopes that math majors will see the vast career possibilities available upon graduation.
“A lot of people are willing to confront their fear of math if they see a goal in the end,” he said.
Coulliette hopes that the aerodynamic and engineering principles displayed throughout Geek Week, as well as the question and answer session with math professionals, will encourage math majors to persevere in the difficult classes.
Events planned for the week include: an origami class and folding contest; a high-school math Olympiad and a paper-airplane-flying workshop with a flying c
ontest. Winners receive $50 Best Buy gift certificates. Math professionals and recent Asbury College graduates, Tim Morrill ’06 and Mark Speakman ’06, with their boss Maria Larson, of the Louisville, Ky., Mercer Corp. will be on hand to share their career successes.
The week will end with the math department’s monthly First Friday event at Coulliette’s home. This event consists of food, the exchange of math-major trading cards, a pocket-protector ceremony and watching their favorite TV show, “Numbers”. Pocket protectors are reserved for students who have survived a sophomore math class and trading cards for those who have conquered one of Dr. Lee’s math classes.
The math department invites interested parties to check out the fun side of math this week. An origami display will be exhibited all week in the Kinlaw Library, and all workshops will be held in the Kinlaw Library Boardroom. If you are a geek or would like to be one, come meet other people just like you.