Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to give a cross-program talk at PCMI, the Park City Mathematics Institute. I talked about how doing math online can help us reach others in the math community, building bridges between teachers, researchers, and recreational math enthusiasts and reach those who think math isn’t for them. I talked about both social media and blogs as places where online math happens and some suggestions for how to talk about math so other people will listen.
PCMI is really several programs in one. There is a research program with a graduate summer school, a secondary school teachers program, a program for faculty at undergraduate teaching-focused institutions, and an undergraduate summer school. (There might be more, but I think those are the groups I’ve encountered. It is large. It contains multitudes.) When I attended in the past, the instinct was for people to associate with others in their group, but some gentle nudges towards cross-program socialization led to some interesting and fruitful conversations. I think it’s easy to have tunnel vision as a participant in any of the programs, so those nudges really help people make connections and think about the broader math community they belong to. Incidentally, these are two of the things I find most gratifying about doing math online. Programs like PCMI are rare and short; the Internet, for better or worse, is always there. I’d never cross paths with math teachers who live thousands of miles away if I didn’t do it online.
With all that online math talk, I thought it would be nice to share some of the blogs written by this year’s PCMI participants. It turns out the teacher program is one step ahead of me: they keep a list of participants’ blogs here. So I’ll just include a few blogs by the people I met either in person or online during my brief trip up into the mountains.
I was happy to see that my AMS blogging pal Adriana Salerno, who writes PhD Plus Epsilon, was at PCMI this year. She was even kind enough to include my talk in her week one roundup post. While I didn’t get to meet him, I also heard about Dagan Karp, AMS blogger, Harvey Mudd math professor, and leader of the Undergraduate Faculty Program at PCMI.
I got to meet one of my online math pals, Ashli, known to me on Twitter as @mythagon and the author of Learning to Fold. I had lunch with her, Wendy Menard, who writes Her Mathness, and Dylan Kane of Five Twelve Thirteen. Both Menard and Kane blogged about the PCMI teacher program this year. Kane posted about a short talk he gave on the #MTBoS (math twitter blog-o-sphere), a cool online conglomeration of people blogging and tweeting about math and teaching. Later, I met Anne Paoletti Bayna on Twitter, where she shared her math Tumblr, paomaths. Menard and Bayna both blogged/tumbl’d about making conic sections with piles of salt. I’ve never done that before, but there’s a PCMI page about it (pdf). I’ll have to try it.
I really wish I had been able to stay and talk more with other math bloggers at PCMI (and of course see Henry Segerman’s talk on 3D printed geometry the day after mine). If I missed any PCMI blogs, please leave a note in the comments or find me on Twitter. I’d love to connect online, even if we didn’t get to meet face-to-face.