The Roar

Putting the M in STEM

Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer speaks to students about the relevance of math

On Friday March 23, Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, a professor from George Mason University, spoke to students at PFHS about STEM as a part of the U.S.A. Science and Engineering Festival’s Nifty Fifty Program, which is designed to bring science and math educators to high schools to talk to students.

“He basically tried to prove that math can be interesting and applicable, and not just something you sit and do with worksheets all day,” said Instructional Facilitator Molly Rippa. “He really enjoys math and its applications in life; he was pretty interesting.”

The speech was facilitated by seniors Erica Collins and Sina Keramat, who both plan on going into STEM after high school; Collins is interested in environmental science and policy, and Keramat is interested in statistics and engineering.

“The speaker event was cool; the guy was really good at explaining how you shouldn’t look at the bare numbers, but you should find the problem that the numbers explain,” said Keramat.

“Instead of a math problem, here’s a real life problem, now find the math,” said Collins.

The speech, which was an effort to promote STEM as a career, was specifically geared towards how math can be used in all areas.

“I didn’t realize how much math was in biology, and that I might actually end up using the calc that I’m learning, so that was cool,” said Collins.

During his speech, Seshaiyer surprised students by showing them how math and arithmetic can be used to guess things about them, such as their birthdays. He also showed them new ways to solve simple math problems.

“The coolest thing is that he taught me how to multiply multiples of nine with my fingers. That was easily the best part,” said Keramat.

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