The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), the only math Museum in North America, is awarding a cash prize to Kyna Airriess, a high student from Coronado who created an outstanding “zine” that celebrates the universality of math. Airriess is one of eight high school students worldwide to win MoMath’s inaugural “Strogatz Prize” math contest. She attends High Tech High.

“MoMath is thrilled to award the first-ever Strogatz Prize to eight extraordinary high school students,” said Cindy Lawrence, CEO and Executive Director of MoMath. “This contest was designed to celebrate students who use their imagination and creativity to share their love of math with the world. We hope that this friendly competition brought joy and excitement to all of our participants from around the world, especially during this challenging time.”

The “Steven H. Strogatz Prize for Math Communication” is awarded based on content, creativity, and communication. Projects are accepted and judged in categories, which include video, audio, social media, art, writing, and performance. Among 46 entries were podcasts, articles, school newspaper columns, YouTube videos, websites, social media accounts, and songs, all of which promoted mathematical concepts in new and exciting ways.

The project for the writing award submitted by Airriess is a “zine” based on a quote from “A Mathematician’s Lament,” a polemical essay by high school teacher Paul Lockhart. “There is nothing as dreamy and poetic, as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics,” wrote Lockhart. Reading Lockhart’s essay, says Airriess, “contributed to my own conversion from ardent math-hater to aspiring mathematician; I’d never heard someone describe math, the subject of unfeeling calculations, with words like ‘poetic’ and ‘radical.’ It was a long time before I began to see these traits for myself, but today I self-identify as a math nerd, and I want to study math in college.”

In the zine, each of Lockhart’s memorable adjectives—dreamy, poetic, subversive, and psychedelic—is illustrated and connected to math ideas, using symbols, history, color, and imagery. The judges were impressed by the passionate energy conveyed by the zine’s words and design. The overall effect achieves what Airriess intended: to embody “what those of us who love math want the world to understand. It isn’t about cold calculations at all— it’s a field full of creativity and beauty, and it is just as infused with humanity as any other.”

Airriess’ zine can be viewed at

“The judges were incredibly impressed by this inaugural year’s projects,” said Steven Strogatz, American mathematician and Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. “To all the students who entered: you are all wonderful ambassadors for mathematics, and such imaginative math communicators. Congratulations to you all, and thank you for sharing your insight and creativity with us. These are tough acts to follow, but we’re certain we’ll be equally impressed next year!”

(1) comment


It's a very interesting and life story. But I doubt it's possible to make your way somewhere right now. Usually you need professional help, either in PR or writing a brilliant work. I remember when we were in college, students were forced to write very complex works, and then often humiliated for failure. There is a lot of that going on now, so I want to help simple students, like I was, too. I was only saved by the fact that I found the rating of in the Internet at that time, where the most detailed description of the company, where experts and professionals work to write exactly such theoretical works. They already know where to get the data from and so on. Read there about them and find the company that suits you best. It's not difficult now and everyone can do it. So I would definitely recommend that every schoolboy and student have a look at it. I hope that you can get around this unfair system in this way.

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