All about math department projects and events.

A call for stairwell art!

Let's make this space awesome!
Let’s make this space awesome!

Ms. Smith and the math department want student ideas for what to put up on the walls of the math department stairwell. Send your submissions to Ms. Smith ( by Friday, 12/16. You can also drop off physical submission in the box in the math office, located in Schoolhouse 21.

Math + Art = Awesome

Here’s Ms. Smith’s presentation:

Hello, I am Ms. Smith and I am one of the teachers in the math department. But today, I am not here to talk about math. I’m here to talk about math and art, like the mathematical murals projected behind me.

You may think that math is restricted to the realm of numbers and equations. While it is certainly true that numbers and equations form the building blocks of mathematics, they also give rise to things that look a lot like art.

Those equations give rise to parabolas, ellipses, circles, shapes that are found throughout the artistic world. Infinite repetition and self-similarity give rise to fractals, like the dragon curve. Computer programs can even give rise to art. They can generate, random, yet strangely structured images.

Math can give rise to art. And art can give rise to math.

So here’s where you come in. The brick stairwell to the math classrooms is empty. We want to fill it with math and art. We want your designs for the space, whether it’s math, art, or something in between. Until winter break, the Math Department will be collecting designs and ideas for the stairwell. You can submit your designs to the box in the math office or to

Thank you and happy sketching!

Williston Math Teacher to Present at Math Conference

JMMWilliston math teacher Mia Smith will be traveling to Atlanta this January to present a paper at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest mathematics meeting in the world.

Smith authored the paper “Colorful Graph Associahedra” with Professor Satyan Devadoss while at Williams. From the abstract:

Mia Smith
Mia Smith

“Given a graph G, there exists a simple convex polytope called the graph associahedron whose face poset is based on the connected subgraphs of G. Motivated by ideas in algebraic topology and computational geometry, we define the colorful graph associahedron based on an assignment of a color parameter. We show it to be a simple abstract polytope, provide its construction based on the classical permutohedron and prove various combinatorial and topological properties.”

Congratulations, Ms. Smith!

What we’re reading – October 2016

We’re constantly working to improve our craft here in the Williston Mathematics Department. Here are some of the items we’ve been reading and watching lately:

Article: Study Shows Computer Science Gap Begins Early

Article: A Simple Solution to the STEM Crisis: Do We Have the Will to Lead the Way?

Article: How the Geometry of Movies Can Change the Way We Think

Video: Sal Khan speaks at TED about mastery-based learning

Video: A tiny origami robot can deliver medicine once it’s inside a person’s body

Origami in Japan!

John Montroll's Grasshopper
John Montroll’s Grasshopper

Origami is one of the primary reasons I have devoted my life to mathematics. When I was 5, my parents gave me my first Origami books and I was immediately hooked. I can remember waking up early every morning to fold all sorts of models. The geometry, logic,  necessary dexterity, and focus were all mesmerizing.

Origami has been a constant in just about all of my math courses. We have constructed specific angles in Geometry,  studied complex surface area and volume questions with the help of modular Origami in Multivariable Calculus, and worked on edge connectivity problems in Algebra 2. There are seemingly infinite numbers of ways to work Origami into just about any math lesson! You can read about a recent class module right here: Star Project Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Star folding!
Star folding!

Not only can Origami be applied almost anywhere in math, it’s incredibly fun. We’re only a few weeks into class and I’ve already had several students approach me to ask about when we’ll be folding. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s students!

Last fall, as part of my quest to learn as much as I can about Origami, I sat down with one of the world leaders of Math and Origami, Dr. Thomas Hull, Associate Professor at Western New England University and author of Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics. Dr. Hull was, as expected, provided an absolute wealth of information! We spoke about how to best design Origami lessons, how to choose topics, as well as his recent sabbatical trip to Japan. His input was invaluable in helping me design my Williston professional development application to travel to Japan and study Origami!

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-11-04-02-amWilliston accepted my proposal and  I was able to travel to Japan in August to attend the Origami Tanteidan in Tokyo. Needless to say, I had an incredible time!

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Math Resource Center – Fall 2016

This just in from Mrs. Hill:

Hello everyone,

My name is Mrs. Hill, and this year I am coordinating the Mathematics Resource Center. We now have a whole gang of wonderfully helpful, articulate, and supportive math tutors who are ready and willing to help you in the MRC! In fact, we have so many tutors this year that we will be able to offer expanded hours, so that hopefully everyone can make use of this facility. If you have a bunch of questions before a test, or if you just want to feel like you have some support while you get your math assignment done, these are the perfect people to ask.

Also, this year, I will be spending time in the Math Resource Center helping out as well, In fact if you look at the schedule, you’ll see that I will be at the MRC a number of times over the two week cycle. So if you are a little nervous about asking another student for help, you can come find me instead! 

The Math Resource Center is located at the end of the hall on the second floor of the Schoolhouse (room 28), so come by soon,

Mrs. Hill


Ms. Smith is published!

Mia Smith
Mia Smith

This just in from Ms. Smith:

I just found out that the knot theory research and paper I did last summer will be published. It’s my first paper! It is appearing the Journal of Knot Theory and Its Ramifications sometime this winter. If you’re curious, the paper is archived online here. (But no, we did not sneak in any (k)not theory puns.)

Please join me in congratulating Ms. Smith!

Also, while you’re at it, everyone should check out Ms. Smith’s awesome bulletin display now up in the math department hallway:

Two new family members!

The math department is happy to be adding two new members to our family this year!

Please make sure to say hi to them as you see them around campus!

Katy Briedis
Katy Briedis

Katy Briedis joins the Williston faculty from Cushing Academy where she taught math and was a coach and a dorm parent. As a Cushing graduate she knows independent boarding schools. She will coach lacrosse and work in the athletic performance program. Katy has a B.A. in Mathematics from SUNY Potsdam and an MBA from Averett University. Katy lives at 30 Center St.

Mia Smith
Mia Smith

Mia Smith graduated from Williams College this spring with a B.A. in Mathematics. She has been very involved in math communities both at Williams and beyond. She was a member of the Math Student Advisory Board at Williams, and her work also included MathCamps, a summer boarding program for exceptional math scholars around the world. At Williston Mia will teach math, coach cross country and lacrosse, and serve as a dorm parent. Mia lives in Logan House.

All about math department projects and events.