California State University, Fullerton

News Categories

CSUF News Service

Saturday Morning Math Circle Inspires the Curious

From Second Grade Through High School, Weekly Program Mentors Math Students

Sept. 23, 2013

Fullerton Mathematical Circle student Bryan Brzycki takes a CSUF advanced calculus course this fall to foster his impressive math skills.

Download Photo

Cal State Fullerton math faculty members know the value of mentoring gifted young students.

"Our job is to draw the students into mathematics by unleashing their seeds of curiosity. I try to do everything in my power to make mathematics fun and interesting. One way for teachers and parents to do this is to get their students into the game of solving problems early and often. Math circles, competitions and research can all do this," said Scott Annin, professor of mathematics and a faculty mentor with CSUF's Mathematical Circle.

Bogdan Suceavă, professor of mathematics, founded the Saturday morning math circle in 2011 to give children in grades 2-12 the opportunity to deepen their understanding of math and inspire them to pursue math studies in high school and college.

Students have benefited from the mentoring from faculty members and math majors who facilitate the math circle sessions, which began this month, noted Suceavă.

One student, 17-year-old Troy High School senior Bryan Brzycki, stands out. His work in the math circle since the 10th grade and attendance in advanced math courses through University Extended Education have helped him to become an accomplished young mathematician.

"For someone as young as Bryan, his knowledge of mathematics is extraordinary. Any energy that I expend on facilitating Bryan's education is well-spent," said Annin.

Brzycki, currently enrolled in Annin's advanced calculus course, has taken upper-division math courses with faculty members Zair Ibragimov and Armando Martinez-Cruz. His father, Michael, a software engineer, is impressed with how the CSUF programs have fostered his son's math skills.

"Bryan has been introduced to different types of math, giving him a taste of what it will be like to be a math major in college. To get this exposure early on, is really beneficial," he said.

Throughout middle school and high school, Brzycki's parents did whatever they could to foster their son's remarkable math skills, encouraging him to participate in state and national math competitions and enrichment programs.

The young scholar most recently competed at the International Olympiad of Astrophysics and Astronomy in Greece, scoring the highest for the U.S. team. He has competed in math contests at Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Caltech, among others. Last spring, he competed in the USA Mathematical Olympiad, scoring in the top 40 and earning CSUF a commendation of excellence.

With guidance from Suceavă, the teen has written and submitted his first research paper for journal publication, and is  participating in a differential geometry research project with CSUF math students. He also is working with Annin on a research project.

Brzycki, who is applying to colleges to continue studying math, credits his Titan mentors for helping him excel.

"Having access to research opportunities and exposure to the CSUF faculty mentors, who've shown me how to do research and write a paper, have been an invaluable experience for me."

Tags:  Academics & Research