What is a Math Circle?

Math circles originated in Eastern Europe. They are similar to school math clubs, but more intensive. The leader of the circle is usually a professional mathematician (university professor or graduate student) and the topics covered are not standard school math. In a well-run math circle, the atmosphere is fun, intensive, and playful. Work is done collectively as well as individually. There are active circles in the Bay Area, in Oakland/East BayBerkeley and San Jose.  

How does the San Francisco Math Circle differ from these other local programs?

How does the San Francisco Math Circle differ from these other local programs? The SFMC is different in several important ways:

  1. It is designed for students in grades 2-10. The other programs focus on older students.
  2. SFMC is teacher-driven. We rely on teachers to find and recruit students, and to bring the students to the program.
  3. We offer courses specifically designed for teachers which take place during the program for students.
  4. With many math circle programs, the students are self-selected, or else the students' parents encourage participation. This generally means that most students come from an "already enriched" socioeconomic level. The teacher-driven philosophy of SFMC is designed to find students from varied backgrounds who may not otherwise know of such opportunities.

Who may attend?

Any student who lives in San Francisco, San Bruno, Daly City, or South San Francisco who will be in grade 2-10 during the current academic year is eligible. Beyond that, the student must have a demonstrated strong interest in mathematics and a desire to succeed. 

Is this program remedial?

No, this is an enrichment program. It is not for everyone. The ideal student should already have a very strong interest in mathematics.  

Isn't this program elitist?

In a sense, yes, since the program is not designed for all students. However, we strongly believe that mathematical talent can look very different from student to student. We would like to find talented students who may otherwise be undiscovered, and help them rise to reach their potential. The health of our society depends on finding and nurturing talent. And by "talent," we do not just mean test scores. Sometimes talent is manifested by curiosity, or a passion to learn.  

Is this an acceleration program? Can students attend the SF Math Circle in place of standard courses?

No, the SFMC is just for enrichment. We will cover non-standard topics and look at traditional topics in great depth and from different points of view. Students will learn a lot, and if all goes well, will become highly motivated and efficient learners of any type of mathematics, but they will not be accelerating through any of the standard mathematics curriculum.

Is there homework?

There is no mandatory homework. However, it is suggested that students take the questions home or to friends and continue to explore the topics outside of the Math Circle time. 

Where is the program located?

The classes are held at the San Francisco State University, Mission High School and Burton Academic High School. For exact location, directions, and parking information, click here.  

How many students will there be?

In past years, more than one hundred students and more than two dozen teachers visited the program, and usually we had about 50 students and 15 teachers attending each week. 

How much does it cost?

In the past years, thanks to our generous sponsors, SF Math Circle has been a free program. In fact, teachers have received a weekly honorarium to compensate them for taking students to the program!  However, we are currently in transition in our funding. At this time we are requesting donations so that we can continue to offer a full program. Without enough donations, we may not be able to offer as many sessions as we have in the past. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up with our fundraising efforts. 

Can parents/guardians take the students to the program?

If you are a parent interested in becoming involved in our Math Circle lessons, please see our page for parents

Can parents/guardians take the courses offered for teachers?

Yes, but we currently are not offering any courses or Math Circles for Teachers. If you know of a good sized group of parents and/or teachers who would like to have a Math Circle session, please contact us