Today is Earth Day – a perfect link with our Mathematics Awareness Month theme of the Mathematics of Sustainability.

At Bryn Mawr College, we celebrated Earth Day a bit early on Saturday, April 20. There were a wide range of activities around the environment that student groups organized. I contributed an activity called “When will all the ice be gone?” based on a math unit that looks at the extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The challenge is to use the data on sea ice extent over the past two decades to predict in which year the Arctic will first become completely free of ice. I offered a $50 prize to the winner. The catch is – they may have to wait awhile to claim their prize! Take a look at the beautiful and thought provoking video A New Climate State: Arctic Sea Ice 2012 to learn more about the Arctic sea ice melt.

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the winners of the second annual Green Ribbon School awards. These awards are given to schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates STEM, civic skills and green career pathways.

For schools and teachers that want to become Green Ribbon schools but are wondering how to incorporate sustainability into their curriculum, take a look at the Sustainability Counts! section of the Mathematics Awareness Month website. It provides a number of model lessons that demonstrate how one can incorporate mathematics into sustainability education.

On Friday, I will be attending the Earth Day celebration at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, which will include the kick-off for their “Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation” mural, which they will paint over the next two years. I look forward to celebrating the excellent work of the students and their teachers – and awarding the school copies of our Mathematics of Sustainability poster.

Victor Donnay

Chair, Mathematics Awareness Month Advisory Committee

Professor of Mathematics

Bryn Mawr College