Math educator Ken Fan visited DCD on Tuesday to share his love of math with eighth graders. Ken received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard and then went on to earn his PhD in mathematics from MIT.  

In 2007, Ken created a non-profit organization at MIT for women and girls called Girls’ Angle, whose mission is “To foster and nurture girls’ interest in mathematics and empower them to be able to tackle any field no matter the level of mathematical sophistication.”  

Ken brought locked puzzle boxes to the session at DCD that contained a prize for the group if they could successfully solve a series of math problems that would reveal the combination. Students spent two and a half hours trying to solve the puzzle, breaking into two groups — the girls in one room and the boys in another — for the challenging process of solving a multitude of math examples encompassing many different areas of math (including some difficult high-school-level questions. Each group worked on a different puzzle box. 

Besides using their mathematical knowledge and skills, each group needed to organize the task, work together, determine what direction they needed go in, check each other’s work, determine each member’s strengths in order to work as efficiently as possible, and maintain a focus on the task for over two hours—no small feat!  Both groups were successful in opening their puzzle boxes at the very end of the session.