Woodbury’s Math, Science, & Subject Tutoring Center is an important resource for students. The Center’s tutoring sessions are free and available to all students—from those struggling with their coursework, to those seeking to turn a B+ average into an A. But recently, The Center has also provided another benefit to the Woodbury community: Keeping it informed about important scholars and their achievements.
Following on the heels of its successful Euler’s Number celebration in February, The Center will be celebrating “Women in Math & Science Week” during the first week in April as way to honor a week’s worth of women’s accomplishments in math and science. Laurel DiGangi, coordinator of tutoring services, said that “Women in Math & Science Week” grew out of an earlier project.
“At our first training meeting in January,” DiGangi said. “The tutors suggested that we celebrate ‘Pi Day.’”
But since March 14, the day Pi Day is celebrated, fell during spring break, the decision was made to honor a more obscure, but equally important (it’s used to calculate compounding interest after all!) number, called “Euler’s Number” (2.71828182 etc.) on February 7.
“Because the name is pronounced like ‘oiler’s’ the tutors thought it would be great to serve oil-based treats,” DiGangi said. “So we ended up serving flavored olive oil dips with bread and salad on the quad. The event was a big success, with numerous faculty and students commenting that they hadn’t known about Euler and the significance of this number until this event.”
As a follow up, The Center had planned to celebrate World Math Day on March 4, but after the previous success of Euler’s Day, the concept seemed somewhat generic. Would students visit a booth on the quad to joyously celebrate World Math Day? DiGangi was skeptical.
“The success of Euler’s Day seemed to hinge upon connecting mathematics with a human face, a narrative, and a real world application,” DiGangi said. “And since March is Women’s History Month, it seemed natural to celebrate women in math and science.”
But, once again the academic calendar did not cooperate. An event was originally planned for March 28 but campus is closed that day in honor of Cesar Chavez Day.
“Then I realized, why do we need to limit our celebration of women’s history to March? Let’s just extend the celebration into April—and hopefully beyond,” DiGangi said.
DiGangi then created a forum on The Center’s Moodle page for tutors to brainstorm possible ideas for the event. “Several suggested women they admired and that’s when I realized the obvious solution,” DiGangi said. “Let each tutor choose a specific woman they want the campus community to know about.” The tutors went to work and chose a very diverse group of women.
“I brainstormed with each tutor about a candy or treat that we could loosely associate with every woman, just as we had with Euler’s Day,” DiGangi said. “This involved an extra step, beyond research, that flexed their creative muscles. I think students will enjoy popping into Whitten every day to pick up their special treat!”
The ultimate goal for The Center is to create an interest within the Woodbury community about these remarkable and accomplished women.
“They represent the thousands of women around the world whose accomplishments in the STEM fields continue to make the world a better place,” DiGangi said. “I also want students to understand that building a strong relationship with a peer tutor can help them attain their academic goals, and perhaps someday be extraordinary themselves.”