Stevens Math Circle Initiative

Students testing at the 2019 math olympiad

The Stevens Math Circle Initiative is an enrichment program for elementary and middle school students intended to inspire and nurture a love for mathematics, and to teach critical reasoning skills.

Math Circles expose students to mathematics that is interesting, challenging, and fun, and that goes well beyond the material covered in a typical math class. They aim to show students a different side of mathematics—one where ingenuity, creativity, collaboration, and deep learning take priority over rote memorization, routine problem-solving, and standardized assessment.

What's a Math Circle?

A Math Circle is an enrichment program for elementary and middle school students who are interested in math. At meetings, students are taught to actively explore problems and to articulate their reasoning—without being pressured, and without being handed the answer. They are encouraged to collaborate, engage in mathematical discussion, and participate in mathematical games and activities. Math Circles have a long history in Eastern Europe, where they have contributed to the early education of many prominent mathematicians and scientists, but they are relatively uncommon in the United States. We’re trying to change that.

Start a Math Circle at Your School

If you’re a teacher or school administrator interested in partnering with Stevens to create a Math Circle at your school, contact Jan Cannizzo at [email protected] for more information.

[How-To] Make Math Fun

The minds behind Stevens’ Math Olympiad and Math Circle Initiative advise on nurturing a love of the subject in children.

Collage of image of child among geometric shapes and math algorithms

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A three-credit course and new teaching opportunities are now available to Stevens undergraduates.

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A young student concentrates as she works on a math problem

About Our Initiative

In 2017, the Department of Mathematical Sciences launched the Stevens Math Circle Initiative, working with two local public schools to start Math Circles for students in grades 3-6. Our unique approach, which entails enlisting the help of talented college and high school students to facilitate Math Circles in the classroom, allowed us to establish over a dozen Math Circles at various schools within just two years. Our goal is to give any interested school in the country—especially schools with limited resources—materials to establish their own Math Circle. This includes:

  • Detailed guidelines that explain how to organize and manage a Math Circle, together with a ready-to-use schedule tailored to a given school’s needs.

  • A full year’s worth of problem sets—each adhering to a particular mathematical theme—for students in grades 3-6.

  • A full year’s worth of mathematical games and activities, together with detailed instructions. 

All of this content is composed by professional mathematicians at Stevens, and almost all of it requires little more than pencil, paper, and curiosity to implement.

What People Are Saying

We had an overwhelmingly positive response from the program! Thank you for all that you and your staff has done already!
Director of Innovative Programs,Hoboken Public Schools

Thank you for your help in providing interesting, challenging, and fun assignments this semester. Please convey my gratitude to all of the Stevens students who worked well with our students throughout the semester.
Teacher at a Stevens Math Circle

Frequently Asked Questions

Sample Problems

True problem solving is as much about the journey as the destination. Math Circle participants are asked to challenge themselves and explain their reasoning as they ponder their way through dozens of problem sets, games, and activities—all composed by professional mathematicians at Stevens.

In a Stevens Math Circle, students are exposed to problems that touch upon a large variety of mathematical topics, including geometry, combinatorics, number theory, and logic. They play mathematical games—some single-player, some two-player, some collaborative—that are rich in strategy. And they engage in hands-on activities that allow them to explore a particular mathematical subject. The following is a small collection of sample materials intended to give a sense of the questions that Math Circle participants are asked to explore.


The Stevens Math Circle Initiative has been supported by grants from the Mathematical Association of America, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, PNC Foundation, and National Science Foundation.

Mathematical Association of America LogoAlfred P. Sloan Foundation LogoPNC Foundation logoNational Science Federation