Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences 2013-2014

The Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences program (GEMS) is a once monthly, Saturday morning workshop that was founded at the Claremont Colleges in the Fall 2008. It was so popular, we are presenting it again for the Fall 2013. GEMS is designed to reach eighth, ninth and tenth grade students who may have an interest in mathematics or science. The workshops present mathematics and science applications in an exciting way that catches these young students’ interest early. Included in the 2013-2014 GEMS program are the Pomona, Claremont, San Bernadino, Upland and Long Beach Unified School Districts as well as selected private schools upon request. The students are selected by principals or teachers with the sole prerequisite that the young student shows enough interest to get up on a Saturday morning and come to the workshops. Professors, undergraduates and graduate students from each of the six colleges in the Claremont Consortium will take part in one way or another in the GEMS program, thus offering the incoming students, their parents, teachers, principals and counselors a chance to meet and work with the large variety of excellent and award winning faculty, staff and alumni at the Claremont Colleges. The goal is to allow each young student to become increasingly aware that mathematics and science experiences are fun and process-oriented rather than answer-oriented. The GEMS program will help excite the curiosity of these young students and show that higher education can be very exciting and satisfying.

*Participants limited to 90 and pre-registration is required. Please copy and paste the link below in order to register:



The Spring 2014 dates are listed here:


April 5, 2014--Professor Deanna Needell, CMC.

"Mathematical probability: games and applications".
Probability is a seemingly simply notion, but the mathematics of probability is deep and often beautiful and surprising. In this project, we will talk about the basics of probability theory including its mathematical definition, and some core axioms. We will derive some important probabilistic properties and use these to explore a classical problem called "Buffon's needle". Other applications of probability including medical imaging and crime fighting will be presented, to gain an overall appreciation for the power and beauty of probability and randomness. The students will work on a project by playing out the Buffon's needle experiment and using probability to estimate and explore the outcomes.

March 8, 2014--Professor Michael Orrison, HMC.

"Should We Vote on How We Vote?"

Voting is something we do in a variety of settings, but how we vote is seldom questioned. In this workshop, we'll explore a few different voting procedures from a mathematical perspective as we try to make sense of the paradoxical results that can occur when we vote in more than one way. 


February 8, 2014--Professor Sam Nelson, CMC.

"Knotted or Not"

Knot theory is a field of mathematics that studies how strings can be tied in different kinds of knots. Knots have applications in many different ares of science and technology, from chemistry and biology to physics and engineering. In this activity, we will see some of the tools mathematicians use to distinguish different kinds of knots.



October 12, 2013--Prof. David Tanenbaum, Pomona College, will discuss a few different approaches scientists have taken to measuring the speed of light, and the importance of this measurement of one of our fundamental constants.  We will perform time of flight measurements with lasers and high speed electronics to make our own local measurements.

November 9, 2013-- Professor Mark Huber, CMC, will discuss:

"Let's make a deal: Using information to make decisions" : Understand how extra information affects our knowledge about outcomes can tricky.  In this project we'll look at a game show called Let's Make a Deal and show how information given by the host can help a player to make better decisions.

December 14, 2013-- Professor Marina Chugunova, CGU, will discuss:

The Mathematics of Love
In mathematics the stable marriage problem is the problem of finding a stable matching between two sets of elements given a set of preferences for each element. It is commonly stated as:
Given n men and n women, where each person has ranked all members of the opposite sex with a unique number between 1 and n in order of preference, marry the men and women together such that there are no two people of opposite sex who would both rather have each other than their current partners. If there are no such people, all the marriages are "stable".
Algorithms for finding solutions to the stable marriage problem have various applications in the real life, perhaps the best known of these being in the assignment of graduating medical students to their first hospital appointments.
We will suppose the general rules governing marriage are these: Any man and woman who both consent to marry one another may proceed to do so, and any man or woman is free to withhold his or her consent and remain single.
We will consider more detailed descriptions of possible rules at various points in the discussion. During the practice session high school students will develop skills of finding the stable matching in different real-world situations.

**please note that there are some notes from this workshop attached at the bottom of this page. Feel free to use them as you wish.


The Saturday morning workshops begin at 10:00 and go through to 12:00 noon. They typically begin with a forty-five minute presentation by a professor, followed by a forty-five minute breakout session of small groups conducting their own hands-on personal exploration. Each breakout group consists of approximately six to eight students and is assisted by the colleges' undergraduate and graduate students. The breakout sessions are followed by a snack and then group presentations, posters and explanations underscored with lively participation. Transportation for the young students is provided by the respective school districts (bus, van, carpooling by parents, teachers, etc) or personal transportation and the site for the 2013-2014 GEMS program is The Founders Room, on the Claremont McKenna College campus. The Founders Room is adjacent to Bauer Center on 9th street in Claremont. Registration is open and free of charge to all students in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades. Because each session is independent from the other sessions, a student may choose to participate in one workshop, or all of the workshops. However once a student has experienced one session, it is unlikely he or she will want to miss a single one.

The GEMS program is co-sponsored by the Claremont Graduate University, School of Educational Studies, the Claremont Center for Mathematical Sciences and Mathematical Association of America (Tensor-SUMMA Grants Program). We are an MSRI Math Circle. For more information, please contact Dave Bachman, Faculty Director, GEMS Program or Claremont Center for Mathematical Sciences at 909-607-8012. The following link will bring you to a short documentary film with some of the principals and students:

MathematicsofLove.pdf1.01 MB
GEMS4.14.pdf1.61 MB