Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences: CURRENT YEAR: 2015-2016 TBA

Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences

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 2014-2015 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.



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:

2014-2015 Year

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






April 11, 2015--Chiu-Yen Kao, Claremont McKenna College--The Mathematics of Musical Instruments

Mathematics is involved in some way in almost every aspect of daily life. In this talk, we will explore the mathematics behind the construction of musical instruments. The main focus will be on the relationship of wavelengths and pitches of the sound. Students will have hands-on experience of making a simple instrument. No prior training of music required!


March 7, 2015--Art Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College--Mathemagics!

Arthur Benjamin will demonstrate and explain the secrets of rapid
mental calculation.  Dr. Benjamin teaches mathematics at Harvey Mudd
College and is one of the world's fastest "lightning calculators".  He
is also a professional magician, the author of several books, and has
received national recognition for his teaching of mathematics.  He has
presented his mixture of math and magic to audiences all over the

Professor Benjamin will demonstrate and EXPLAIN:

How to multiply numbers in your head faster than a calculator!

How to figure out the day of the week of any date in history!

How to memorize 100 digits of pi!

...And other amazing feats of mind!


February 21, 2015--Blake Hunter, Claremont McKenna College-- TESSELLATIONS:  Tessellations are one of the many topics at the intersection of art and mathematics. Inspired by MC Escher, we'll take geometric tilings that fit together without gaps and turn them into interesting shapes.  We’ll use our new tessellating shapes to create unique pieces of art.  In addition to the obvious aesthetic appeal of tessellations, the mathematics behind them is also quite interesting. We will analyze the mathematical symmetries of our repeating designs by studying the underlying mathematical translations, rotations, and reflections.  By the end, you will never look at repeated tile patterns in the same way again.



Fall 2014 Schedule


October 18--David Bachman, Pitzer College--With the invention of 3D printing, mathematics has been transformed from abstract ideas that can only be sketched on a blackboard, to physical objects that you can hold in your hand. In this talk we'll see how to go from an idea of some shape, to a mathematical  model, and finally to a physical object. A 3D printer will be on hand to see in action. 75 participants


November 8--Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College-- The Music in the Math

We usually think of math in terms of numbers, equations, and graphs.
Sometimes we can make mathematical discoveries by listening to
mathematics.  In this presentation, we will see how rhythms and melodies
can be created from mathematical formulas.  No prior training required! 72 Participants


December 6--Gizem Karaali, Pomona College--Weird Geometry: On Doughnuts and Coffee Mugs

Abstract: Though the stereotype of the absent-minded mathematician is not totally accurate, there is a subgroup of mathematicians who tend to confuse their coffee mugs with their doughnuts. Today we will travel to their world, the land of Topology, where lengths and distances no longer matter and mugs and doughnuts smoothly transform into one another. We will study maps, play games, and learn some party tricks along the way; underneath them all lies some really cool mathematics! But heed my warning: At the end of the session, you may find yourself trying to eat your mug with a doughnut!

GEMSspring2015.pdf1.61 MB