Colleges and universities--and also high school departments, institutional public information offices, math clubs, and student groups--and related associations and interest groups are urged to organize and host activities in April for Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. Past activities have included workshops, competitions, exhibits, festivals, lectures, symposia, department open houses, math art exhibits, and math poetry readings. Some years, elected officials have issued proclamations, frequently in connection with special meetings and events arranged to observe the month. This year, due to the coronavirus forcing schools to close and no gatherings, we encourage you to celebrate mathematics and statistics on social media. Share your favorite math books, games, t-shirt designs, posters, news stories, videos, and your research, using hashtag #MathStatMonth. Read about the origins of Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month.
Why? Both subjects play a significant role in addressing many real-world problems--internet security, sustainability, disease, climate change, the data deluge, and much more. Research in these and other areas is ongoing, revealing new results and applications every day in fields such as medicine, manufacturing, energy, biotechnology, and business. Mathematics and statistics are important drivers of innovation in our technological world, in which new systems and methodologies continue to become more complex.
Basic research in mathematics is valuable in itself, but it often contributes to research in other sciences, and has often, years later, led to discoveries that impact society today. For example, an encryption algorithm used today in e-commerce relies on results discovered in the 17th and 18th centuries, long before computers were invented. Mathematics has inspired some of the most stunning architecture and art.
In the age of big data, statistics underlies almost every decision made today, whether it's the effectiveness of a new drug or treatment, or the debut of a new mobile device. Statistics is how analysts convert raw data into useful information, from studies of proteins to surveys of galaxies.
Research in statistics and the mathematical sciences is important for its applications and because it trains one in critical thinking and problem solving. From magic squares and Möbius bands to magical card tricks and illusions, mysterious phenomena with elegant "Aha!" explanations have been part of both subjects for centuries.
This April, let's celebrate mathematics and statistics and the diverse researchers and students in these fields who are contributing so much to furthering discoveries, solving problems, and finding beauty in our world.
The following suggestions are for bringing Mathematics Awareness Month to the attention of the general public by using some of your local media outlets. The more you are able to provide a local angle (such as getting a MAM proclamation from your mayor or governor, involving a local high school or college, etc.), the more likely you are to receive local coverage.
Contact your institution's Public Information Office and ask to have your events included in their various calendar announcements. The PIO is likely to have good contacts with local media and may be able to help you get media coverage. You may also want to discuss the following ideas with your PIO staff.
Newspapers (especially weekly ones) may run an editorial recognizing MAM if it is signed by a local professor or public policy representative. Restrict the focus to one topic, such as changes in calculus courses in your department, selected research projects at your institution over the last decade, how skills in mathematics can increase career options in all fields, etc. Mention your local events briefly as part of the editorial. Keep it to 300 or so words in length. Letters to the Editor are appropriate when you can respond to a recently published story and mention mathematics and/or MAM as part of the reply. Follow carefully the guidelines for Letters to the Editor provided by your paper - often on the editorial page.
Radio and television stations may run PSAs of 10, 20, and 30 seconds in length. The script could focus on Mathematics Awareness Month in general or specifically on your local events. You must provide at least one good slide with 10, 20, and 30 second scripts as part of requesting a local TV station to run your PSA. It helps to have the materials and the request come from a local institution.
Sample 10-second scripts
THE UNIVERSITY OF _________ INVITES YOU TO JOIN IN CELEBRATING MATHEMATICS AWARENESS MONTH, APRIL 2006. MATHEMATICS GIVES US NEW DISCOVERIES AND OFFERS STUDENTS MANY CAREER OPTIONS. MATHEMATICS AWARENESS MONTH IS APRIL. EXPLORE MATHEMATICS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB AT http://www.mathaware.org/ (or provide your own URL - the simpler, the better)
Cable television companies have local access channels that will make 30-minute blocks of time available. Propose a panel discussion to your local cable company on, e.g., "Careers in Mathematics." Provide a list of spokespersons, their institutions, and a few specific ideas about what you could discuss.