Talitha Washington
Talitha Washington, Howard University mathematician

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The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) will once again bring the excitement of the National Math Festival back to the District.

The festival will take place Saturday, April 22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest.

From 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., visitors can experience more than 80 interactive exhibits, performances, films, athletic games and lectures by some of the most world-renowned mathematicians.

“The National Math Festival truly offers something for everyone — from the math behind eyesight, jazz, drag racing, or black holes to stand-up math comedy, a children’s musical, and the math behind Google’s PageRank algorithm,” said MSRI Director David Eisenbud. “Visitors will be given unique opportunities to experience math in new, exciting and unexpected ways.”

During this year’s National Math Festival attendees will be able to compete in the Young People’s Project Flagway Game; navigate giant mazes, design a roller coaster, slice shapes with lasers, and more at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) carnival; and navigate the mathematics Katherine Johnson used to send John Glenn into orbit with Talitha Washington, a professor and mathematician at Howard University.

“The Math Festival is where math is shown in a fun light for the whole family to engage in,” Washington said. “Some of the parents are more excited than their kids. It’s a way to celebrate math, pull apart a lot of different facets of math and see how we use it in our everyday life.”

Washington said her presentation on Johnson, whose story is the basis of the hit movie “Hidden Figures,” brings her full circle in her career as a black woman in math.

“I, myself as a mathematician of color and a woman can relate to Ms. Johnson in so many ways,” Washington said. “When I saw ‘Hidden Figures’ for the first time I cried all the way through it because of what I went through, being a black female and not being able to join clubs or being looked over for opportunities.”

In her presentation, Washington will explore the math Johnson used to contribute to the success of NASA.

“It’s important that children see what mathematicians look like,” she said. “I don’t walk around with a white coat or a pocket projector. I want to break down the stereotypes of who mathematicians are.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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