Math students explore with Dr. P
Posted 11/12/2015 11:57AM
   Dr. Joanna Papakonstantinou (Dr. P) is a mathematics instructor and curriculum developer at Episcopal High School, and she is taking the Mathematics Department to new heights.
   Just this year she has given over 100 EHS students opportunities to attend events that are dedicated to growing and enriching the minds of students, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities both on and off campus. As President-Elect of the Rice Engineering Alumni Board of Directors, Dr. P maintains very close ties with Rice University and takes students to participate in numerous STEM events at Rice University.
   In September, Dr. P and EHS students participated in the “Intersections” opening celebration held in the Rice University Art Gallery. The evening included a talk by the 2014 ArtPrize award-winning Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha, who used light and cast shadow to transform the gallery into a place that alludes to Islamic sacred spaces dense with geometric ornamentation and pattern.
   In October, numerous EHS students volunteered at the Rice University School Math Project booth with Dr. P at  “Energy Day.” While at this festival, EHS students facilitated explorations and had engaging conversations about the wonderful world of science and mathematics all while they exhibited and upheld the morals and standards that our great school stands for. The students explored fun math activities, such as geometric tangram puzzles, a lever activity using Popsicle sticks and pennies, and a polydron framework with which they built polyhedrons.
   Anna St. Denis, a sophomore at Episcopal, shared, “It was a lot of fun to talk with everyone and learn about energy and all the different math and science involved in everything. I loved figuring out the tangrams for myself as well as giving the little kids tips and helping them discover patterns.”   
   Dr. P took students to a Rice University Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen Around the Kitchen Table (ATK) discussion. ATK events are round table discussions that highlight ongoing engineering design work of current undergraduate students at Rice University. EHS students not only learned about engineering design projects but were able to interact with undergraduates, faculty, and professional engineers.
   EHS students also attended the SCREECH competition at Rice University. SCREECH provides an opportunity for graduate students to deliver a 90-second elevator pitch of their cutting-edge research projects being conducted in Rice University’s School of Engineering.
   Dr. P also invited a Baylor M.D./Ph.D. to campus to visit with EHS students interested in pursuing careers in medicine or biomedical research. During the informal discussion, students were able ask Dr. Samson questions to help them better understand the different career paths and the academics required.
   Dr. P encourages students to experience STEM in the real world regardless of what level math they are currently taking. All it takes is a desire to learn and interest in mathematics. Dr. P has a numerous events and activities in store for the future.
   So, if you are looking to get in on the education and fun, just contact Dr. P and join the Math Club.