Motherly Life Notes

What exactly is a math circle? A math circle is an in-person or virtual learning space where students explore and discuss ways of thinking about challenging questions. Participants develop deeper problem solving and mathematical thinking skills.

Learn How to Think Outside the Box

Students who are curious, have confidence to be challenged, or simply interested in math will enjoy participating in math circles. These are positive, supportive groups that explore a wide range of topics not covered in local school curriculum. A math circle is not about memorizing formulas, vocabulary and rules. Instead, students are presented with challenging problems they’re not expected to be able to solve straight away. They will have a chance to think about the problem, discuss it openly with the group, and learn how their peers and instructors are thinking through the problem. Students learn how to think outside the box, expand critical thinking and reasoning skills, and develop an appreciation for the joys of math.

Example Problems Discussed in a Grade 4 Math Circle

  • A Halloween party offers many different treats. Each kid is given 1 bag of candy corn, 2 bags of chocolates, and 3 bags of gummies. How many more bags of chocolates does each kid need to take in order for their total bags of candy to equal twice the number of their bags of chocolates?
  • Macy and Alyssa have a lot of candy at the end of the party. They have the same number of candies, but too many to count them all quickly. How many candies should Alyssa take from Macy if she wants 10 more candies than Macy.

Check Out These Math Circles

  • The Global Math Circle offers online courses that foster collegial discussion of ideas. Eight or fewer students in each group based on age and experience.
  • New York Math Circle offers both online and in-person classes for students of all ages. Classes are typically held on weekends.
  • Berkeley Math Circle is a weekly in-person program held on campus at UC Berkeley for students in elementary through high school.