Science March Spacial: Navajo Math Circles, a Film Called Stunning Beauty, on Native Kids & Math

On April 22, 2017, the critically acclaimed film & winner of many prizes, Navajo Math Circle, screening at National Math Festival, Washington, D.C.

The National Math Festival will feature Navajo Math Circles on Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m., as part of an all-day free, public program at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The math festival brings together some of the most fascinating mathematicians of our time to inspire and challenge participants to see math in new and exciting ways. Offerings include lectures, hands-on demos, art, films, performances, puzzles, games, children’s book readings, and more. Read about Navajo Math Circles and watch the festival video.

Psychology Today reports (source

Navajo Math Circles: A stunningly beautiful documentary


Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine

In a new film, George Paul Csicsery shares Navajo children’s delight in summer math camp. Sound surprising? It is! Every summer Navajo children get up early and come from miles to a summer program at Dine College in Arizona to embrace math. Young people who previously saw math as something they failed at or something unrelated to their lives are finding joy in math. How did this happen?

Dr. Henry Fowler who created the Navajo Math Circles summer program says it stemmed from his own Native American background. He said as a child he would watch his mother weave unique geometric patterns, listen to the thump, thump, thump of her loom and observe her measuring with the side of her hand. By sitting beside her and her loom he learned Navajo culture, customs and number sense. How could he bring this combination of culture math to his people?

By bringing mathematicians, college educators, local teachers, and reservation children together and using the Eastern European educational model called Math Circles, Dr. Fowler has created new excitement about math on the reservation. Math Circles focus on process, exploring, playing with numbers, instead one right answer. Children and teachers who were previously afraid of math are having fun.

This stunningly beautiful film is shot on site in Arizona and chock full of personal stories and indigenous music. Anyone who is interested in math, education, Navajo culture, and the Southwest will delight in this documentary. Do yourself a favor. Take an hour off and watch it


A math circle is a social structure where participants engage in the depths and intricacies of mathematical thinking, propagate the culture of doing mathematics, and create knowledge. To reach these goals, participants partake in problem-solving, mathematical modeling, the practice of art, and philosophical discourse. Some circles involve competition, others do not; all promote camaraderie.[1] A math circle is a slightly more formal version of what English people call a MathsJam.


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