This Mathematician’s Life (ST)


Create your own This American Life (NPR) story about the wonder of mathematics in real life. Here’s what your team must do: go out into the world, seek mathematics, find it, marvel about it, bathe in its glory, …and then tell us a story about the experience.


The NPR program This American Life is one of the most listened-to podcasts in the United States, each week’s story garnering around a million downloads. Each installment follows the story of an individual: an immigrant recounting the difficulties of departing their home country, an entrepreneur with a novel business model, a child who made a difference in their community. The program is a tribute to the variety and complexity of the United States’ human composition. But it is also a show that doesn’t follow a strict format. In the vein of this program, your team must research and produce a chapter of This Mathematician’s Life, in which you will tell a story about an American who interacts with mathematics in a surprising and enlightening way. There are two basic approaches to consider: 1) you can tell a story about you or your team, in your search for mathematics in everyday life, and the results of that search; and 2) you can interview someone else who perhaps has faced a problem that they were able to overcome using mathematics. This guest may be a known persona or an anonymous individual. Core to This Mathematician’s Life are two themes: 1) math is everywhere and its applications are each unique, varied, and interesting; and, 2) anyone can be a mathematician, they just need to recognize the potential for its application. Part of your task is to reinforce these ideas as much as possible and emphasize that mathematics is a daily phenomenon that touches us all.