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Math Circle at the University of Washington

About UW Math Circle

What is UW Math Circle?

The UW Math Circle is a math outreach program for Seattle-area 7th, 8th and 9th graders with mathematical minds, with the aim of introducing them to the world of math beyond the classroom.

Since in-person meetings are impossible during the COVID-19 lockdown, instead, Math Circle will be run in a correspondence style for 2020–21. We will send out a worksheet and problem set every two weeks, and ask participants to think about the problems and write up their ideas, which we will then give feedback on. Our goal is to emphasize open-ended problem-solving skills over just getting the “correct answer” and moving on: we don't expect participants to completely solve all problems, but we do expect them to stay engaged and to think deeply about the mathematics.

There will also be opportunities to discuss the mathematics with the other participants online, and possibly some meet-ups over video (depending on enrolment numbers), but we plan to operate mostly without video this year, to reduce “Zoom fatigue”.

Topics covered in previous years include graph theory, geometry, game theory, infinities and combinatorics.

What is UW Math Circle not?

The UW Math Circle is not intended as a math tutoring service. Nor is it a preparation for MathCounts or other similar competitions. As mentioned above, the Math Circle is an opportunity for middle school students who already have a drive for studying mathematics to enrich their comprehension of what math is really all about.

What are the expectations?

An appreciation for all the math that we'll be showing requires an active participation. There will be regular problem sets every two weeks, which we expect participants to engage deeply with. We will give detailed feedback on the responses, which we hope participants take as an opportunity to grow as mathematicians. Most importantly, we want everyone involved to have fun!

Who are we?

We are UW math faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and other people interested in spreading the beauty of mathematics.




The UW Math Circle has been featured in the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences newsletter, Perspectives.

Congratulations to our past and present math circle coordinators and instructors on their following recent accomplishments:

Costs Involved

In the past, the UW Math Circle had been offered at no cost, thanks to two grants form the National Science Foundation that supported the Department of Mathematics outreach efforts. The larger of those grants expired in the Spring of 2014. With the majority of our funding now gone, we have to ask families to contribute to the operational expenses of the Math Circle, if they are able to do that. We suggest a donation of $100 per semester. This will cover the very basic needs of the Circle. But any amount your family is able to contribute – large or small – will help.

To make a donation, follow this link. Please make your donation by the third week of class in the and then again in the Winter. This will help us with our financial planning. Your donation is tax-deductible and might be matched by your employer. Please talk to Julia Pevtsova if you think this is a possibility.

Details on NSF support: NSF CAREER grant DMS-0953011, NSF Research and Training Grant DMS-0838212, and NSF grant DMS-1501146.