MathFest Counts at YSU

By Danielle Garner

Local high school students came to Youngstown State University to attend MathFest, which featured workshops by YSU students and professors. The annual event explores different ways math is used beyond the classroom.

George Yates, a professor at YSU, said the event is geared towards high school students and challenges their skills while broadening the way math can be applied.

“Students get exposed to a lot of different areas where math is used,” Yates said.

MathFest has been held annually for several years by the YSU mathematics and statistics department. Yates said about 300 students attended.

“It’s a great outreach into the community, where you talk to high school students and get them aware of what’s going on at YSU,” Yates said. “Particularly our goal is to educate them … to the much broader application to the world, and it’s going to be an increasing application in the future.”

Students were able to choose which workshops to attend. Popular workshops included STEM Behind Sports and Football and an origami-themed workshop.

Students from YSU participated in helping high school students locate workshops, hand out pamphlets and score papers.

Monica Busser, a math major at YSU, volunteered with Khang Nguyen, another YSU student, to teach a workshop on the experiences of math majors.

“I think it opens their eyes to the possibilities,” Busser said. “A lot of people think the only thing that you can do is be a math teacher.”

Nguyen said the workshop he taught with Busser invited interaction from the students, and he was excited to explain the benefits of the major.

“Once I started taking statistics for my business major, I actually figured out that I really enjoyed statistics,” Nguyen said. “There’s a lot of different applications of calculus and things that you can do with statistics.”

Randi Yazvac, a teacher at Crestview High School who attended YSU, bought students to MathFest this year. Yazvac said the high school students are more receptive when YSU students interact with them.

“I think it’s great that students get to work with professors, but I think they also enjoy the college students, because you’re a little more their age,” Yazvac said. “I think it’s great to mentor those kids, and four years down the road they think, ‘That could be me doing that workshop.’”

Lucy Hutchinson, a senior high school student from the Oil City area, said she’s excited to come and work with students who have a similar interest in math.

“In high school, it seems like there’s fewer than a handful [of students interested in math], but whenever I come here … I know that that professor is so excited about it that he’s on the ball all the time,” Hutchinson said.

Yazvac said that she was thankful for the faculty and students that are willing to give high school students the opportunity to learn and explore math applications during MathFest.

“Actual professors give up their time to come teach our high school students,” Yazvac said. “I think that is wonderful. I think that shows a lot about the caring nature of the professors here.”