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Professors host “mathemagical” carving contest

October 28, 2016
KOKOMO, Ind. — What do Jack-o-lanterns and math have in common? Both can be scary. However, math faculty at Indiana University Kokomo showed students how bringing the two together can be fun.

Students were invited to unleash their creative sides and craft math-inspired designs during the first-ever “mathemagical” pumpkin carving contest on campus.

“I thought it would be fun to give our students a chance to bring math and the creative arts together,” said Diane Hampshire, lecturer of math.

“We now have the space to conduct this kind of activity and allow our students to engage with math and each other,” she said, noting the new math study and tutoring space made possible by the recent renovations of the Main Building.

These gourds featured a “pi” symbol, creating “pumpkin pie,” the word “boo” using Greek letters Beta, Theta, and Phi, and various formulas and proofs, rather than the traditional leering grin or toothless jack-o-lantern.

The pungent aroma of fresh pumpkin filled the air in the lab as math students and tutors worked in near silence.

“I’m regretting picking something so intricate,” grumbled graduate student Abi Banan, as she attempted to cut a minute subscript two into her design with her tiny plastic carving knife. As a recent Master of Business administration graduate, she chose the Lagrange equation because she used it in her economics classes.

Nathan Wilson faced the same problem with his first-place winning pumpkin, featuring the Basel problem, which he described as “a perfect sum of an infinite series” — in other words, a “really complex sum.”

Awards were based on how “mathy” they were, and the School of Sciences provided gift cards for the winners. In addition to Wilson, winners were Madison Heflin, second; Banan, third; Megan Moss, fourth; and Jordan Wenger, fifth.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana

Last updated: 01/10/2017