Math Isn’t so Hard

Adam Weyhaupt
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Gateway Teen Science Café, St. Louis, MO


When you make it fun, Math isn’t so hard to complete. On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, the Saint Louis Science Center site of the Gateway Teen Science Café node in St. Louis, Missouri, held a Teen Science Café centered around math. Our guest speaker, Adam Weyhaupt, is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. His academic interests are varied and include the interaction of geometry and topology in minimal surfaces (mathematical models of soap bubbles and films) and the interaction of mathematics and social choice theory. His presentation discussed his work and his love of math. I study minimal surfaces; these are surfaces that mathematically model soap films. Dr. Weyhaupt is particularly interested in triply periodic minimal surfaces. These surfaces separate space into two congruent regions, and they may have applications in biology, chemistry, and materials science. The research page has more information about these surface (including links to lots of pictures!) and a list of his papers. He is also interested in mathematics in decision theory and politics.

About Gateway Teen Science Café

What is Teen Science Cafe?

Teen Science Café is a free, fun way for teens to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Stimulating conversations with scientists, engineers, and inventors take place in an informal and relaxed setting. Free food is served!

The program is run by teens for teens at central locations in Cahokia and St. Louis. It was inspired by the adult Café Scientifique programs that have become popular throughout the world. All teens are welcome at any Café, and we are always looking for energetic Youth Leaders to help guide and organize the Café meetings.

Where Do Cafes Take Place?

We have a new cafe lined up for each month. Each cafe theme is hosted at three different locations:

The Academy of Science – St. Louis
Location varies by month
Registration Required

St. Louis Science Center (Taylor Center)
4900 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110
Registration may be required, depending on the topic.

SIUE at Cahokia High School
800 Range Ln Cahokia, IL 62206

Math isn’t so hard

Hands on Activity

For the hands-on activities got the teens up and out of their seats! They involved making patterns on the floor using blue painters’ tape and having teens jump markers from one node to another. According to the rules, one teen issued a challenge to get to a certain node in the pattern, while another had to decide how many markers it would take to get to that node. The catch is that it takes two markers to make one jump, and then one marker gets tossed aside at each node. For example, if a teen has to move two nodes, then she needs four markers. If she needs to move three nodes, then she needs eight markers. At the end, teens are challenged to find a pattern to help them predict how many markers are needed to move a certain number of nodes. Multiple patterns were on the floor, and teens could move around. One parent commented later, “My son told me that if he could have math like that every day, he would always want to go.”