What is a math circle?

Math Circles are communities focused on  the enjoyment of mathematical problem solving. Meetings are lively, interactive, and often “funstrating”: challenging, but in a highly rewarding way!

Math Circles can take many forms, including after-school programs for students, professional learning communities for teachers and mathematicians, or groups of parents or families who want to become more involved with mathematics education. 

There are nearly 300 Math Circles around the U.S., including approximately 150 Math Teacher Circles and another 150 Math Student Circles. Check out our map to see if there’s one near you, or contact us to learn how to start your own!

Vision

Our vision is for every student and teacher in the United States to have access to a Math Circle.

Mission

The mission of the Math Circle Network is to build, connect, and support local communities focused on the enjoyment of mathematics. We believe that Math Circles are powerful  bridges among K-12 schools, higher education institutions, out-of-school programs, and families. We provide free resources for all Math Circles, with a special focus on supporting Math Circles that reach underrepresented or underserved students and their teachers.

Our Story & Impact

Math Student Circles first came to the U.S. in the mid-1990s. This model of math enrichment, in which students meet regularly with mathematics professionals to engage in problem solving, originated in Eastern Europe more than 100 years ago. The first Math Student Circles in the U.S. originated in Boston in 1994 and in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley and San Jose) in 1998. Since their beginnings as primarily competition-focused programs, Math Student Circles in the U.S. have grown into a popular form of mathematics enrichment for students at all grade levels. Many are run as after-school programs serving students from socioeconomically disadvantaged schools. Read more about Math Student Circles…

Math Teacher Circles were developed by a group of teachers and mathematicians in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 2000s. The first Math Teacher Circle was founded in 2006 at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), one of six mathematics research institutes funded by the National Science Foundation. A growing body of research suggests that Math Teacher Circles:

Math Teacher Circles are recognized as a high-quality form of professional learning by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences and as a “bright spot” in promoting teacher voice by the STEM Network 100Kin10. Read more about Math Teacher Circles…
 

Having hosted the Math Teachers’ Circle Network since 2006, in 2020 AIM became the host of the National Association of Math (Student) Circles, an organization founded by the NSF-supported Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. In order to better support the Math Circle community and foster connections among Math Circles for students and teachers, AIM founded the Math Circle Network in 2021.

 

Staff

Brianna Donaldson (PhD, Indiana University) has served as Director of Special Projects since 2008 at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), one of six U.S.-based math research institutes funded by the National Science Foundation. Donaldson oversees AIM’s nationwide education, workforce development, and public engagement programs, with a specific focus on increasing diversity in mathematics. Prior to the establishment of the Math Circle Network in 2021, Donaldson spent 13 years developing the Math Teachers’ Circle Network from 6 initial sites into a major educational initiative that involves thousands of teachers and mathematicians nationally.

Brianna Donaldson

Director

Spencer Bowen (Project Co-Director, BA, SFSU) joined AIM as Associate Director of Special Projects in January 2020. He led the development of AIM’s MathCommunities.org initiative, which has offered weekly math content during the global COVID-19 pandemic and provided direct support to Title 1 schools across the US. Before founding the Math Circle Network, Bowen became the Director of the National Association of Math Circles in 2020.  Before coming to AIM, he spent 6 years at the San Francisco Math Circle, where he served as a lead instruction and Director.

Spencer Bowen

Associate Director

Sonya Kohli has been a part of the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) since graduating from high school in 2012. Starting out as an intern in the library to now assisting the Deputy Director of AIM, Estelle Basor, and the Director of Special Projects, Brianna Donaldson. Before the pandemic she helped lead the AIM MTCs in Palo Alto and San Jose and since then has helped boost the AIM, Math Teachers' Circle Network (now the Math Circle Network), and Math Communities social media channels as well as working behind-the-scenes for all three programs. 

Sonya Kohli

Administrative Assistant

Terry Busk joined the American Institute of Mathematics in mid 2017 as a logistics specialist supporting AIM's math research goals. As a former handyman and martial arts instructor, he's a multifaceted jack-of-all trades helping to manage day-to-day operations as well as web development of both the Math Circles Network and AIM's general research goals. In 2020, he assisted in the development of the MathCommunities.org initiative and continues to support the development of new technical projects.

Terry Busk

Operations Manager

Javier Haro (Project Director) has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics as well as a preliminary single subject secondary mathematics teaching credential from San Francisco State
University (SFSU). While teaching at SFSU, he participated in the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) Square program, a multi-disciplinary institute to support instructors in promoting the success of students by learning about research-based teaching
strategies that involve active learning, equity, and inclusion. He also was an SFSU instructor for the Metro Academics College Success Program, a learning community that guides and supports first-generation, low-income and/or historically underrepresented students in their academic
success. Since Fall 2020, he has served as Mathematics Resources Coordinator at AIM, where he conducts virtual classroom visits nationwide for Title I schools and leads weekly virtual “Math Monday” sessions that focus on student access through fun and thought-provoking activities. At AIM he also develops interactive math resources and translates educational resources to support Spanish-speaking students.

Javier Haro

Consultant

Kelley Barnes is the program director for AIM Morgan Hill Math, a community outreach program providing math enrichment to talented math students in grades 4 through 12. Her responsibilities include identifying promising young math students, developing and coordinating math enrichment lessons, and coaching middle school mathletes to compete in competitions such as AMC8, Math Olympiad, and MATHCOUNTS. She has a BS in Biology and worked for twenty years as a registered veterinary technician before discovering an enthusiasm for teaching math.

Kelley Barnes

Consultant

Advisory Board

Brandy Weigers

Central Washington University

Jane Long

Stephen F. Austin State University

Brandy Weigers

Central Washington University

Jane Long

Stephen F. Austin State University

Brandy Weigers

Central Washington University

Jane Long

Stephen F. Austin State University

Brandy Weigers

Central Washington University

Jane Long

Stephen F. Austin State University

Sponsorship

The Math Circle Network is a project of the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), a mathematical sciences research institute supported by the National Science Foundation. It is a part of AIM’s Math Communities initiative, which brings together multiple K-12 outreach programs.

AIM is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 94-3205114) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a supporter of the Math Circle Network.

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