I am passionate about sharing math with the broader community, helping open minds to what mathematics research is, and encouraging students from diverse backgrounds in their future goals. In this direction, I have led interactive STEM programs at several elementary and middle schools in Columbus and Providence, and I am looking for more opportunities to present research in K-12 settings (if you are a K-12 teacher interested in math presentations, please email me here). Recently I have also gotten involved in writing public science articles.

STEM Outreach in K-12 Settings:

I have developed several interactive presentations aimed at K-12 students. This work began when I was a graduate student as a founding member of the Math CoOp at Brown University and has continued during my postdoctoral time at MBI. I briefly describe the presentations below; please contact me if you would like to use the associated materials (I am happy to send slides and further details).

Zebrafish stripes with perler beads:
Fish have many different patterns, and many multi-colored cells move around on the skin to form zebrafish stripes. I use perler beads ("pigment cells") to guide K-4th grade students through making their own patterns and then following a simple rule to create stripes. At the end of the presentation, I ask the students to guess what subject I teach, and I bring up my zebrafish code. As a group, we change numbers in the code to simulate different fish patterns.

I have given this presentation through the Boys & Girls Club program at:
  • Pheasant Run Clubhouse, Reynoldsburg, OH (Dec. 13, 2018)
  • Gables Elementary School, Columbus, OH (July 16, 2018)
  • Oakmont Elementary School, Columbus, OH (July 12, 2018)
  • Livingston Elementary School, Columbus, OH (July 9, 2018)

Simulating random walks within the cell:
Nerve cells have roadways inside them that are responsible for ferrying various cargoes throughout the neuron. The process is similar to traffic flow: just like on highways, a traffic jam can occur inside cells if transport is disrupted, and this is harmful for the cell. However, there is one big difference: traffic flow inside neurons is random. In this interactive presentation for 6th-8th graders, we explore random walks and mathematical biology using coin-flips and simulations to answer the questions in this worksheet.

I have given this presentation through the Ohio Supercomputer Center's YWSI program:
  • OSC Young Women's Summer Institute, Columbus, OH (July 17, 2018)

When do small changes matter?:
In this presentation aimed at 5th-7th graders (or those with exposure to negative numbers), we explore concepts from dynamical systems (stability and instability) using stop signs, arrows, and number lines.

I have given this presentation twice through Kavita Ramanan's Math CoOp:
  • Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program, Providence, RI (Dec. 8, 2016)
  • STEAM Week, Jewish Community Day School, Providence, RI (Feb. 29-March 4, 2016)

Public Science Involvement:

Teaching in Correctional Facilities:

Rhode Island correctional facilities offer community college courses in some centers, and in graduate school I volunteered as an instructor of math classes in women's prisons through a program led by Matthew Harrison:
  • Business Mathematics (topics including check writing, discounts, hourly wages, salary, and comissions), Spring 2014.
  • Basic Mathematics (topics spanning whole numbers, long division, fractions, and decimal multiplication), Fall 2013.

Press Coverage:

Some of my research has received press coverage: Additionally, my commencement addresses were highlighted at UMBC and Brown:
  • Doctoral commencement address at Brown University
    • Announcement article in Brown News (May 3, 2017).
  • Valedictorian address at the University of Maryland Baltimore County
Alexandria Volkening
Last updated Dec. 18, 2018