In preparation for the total solar eclipse passing through Corvallis in 2017, Hagen combined her love of math, astronomy, and history, to give a series of talks on how the ancient Greeks used the eclipse events to measure the moon and the sun. She spoke at the Corvallis Public Library, Tsunami Books in Eugene, and the OSU Space Grant Festival. These talks were very well-received, and the Corvallis Public Library has since asked Hagen to develop more mathematics lectures directed towards the general public. To that end, Hagen developed an interactive presentation (with lots of props and audience participation) for Pi Day.
David Pengelley was at the library for Sarah’s Pi Day talk and had this to say. "Sarah had a standing-room-only audience of over 100 members of the Corvallis community. The topic was of course π, specifically whether π is really a constant as one varies the size of circles and the nature of geometry, e.g., on a sphere rather than a Euclidean plane. The highly interactive presentation had groups of participants measuring, calculating and discussing π in different situations, using beach balls. The audience was of all ages, with young children and school children working enthusiastically together with adults up to well past retirement age."
Hagen gave a reprise of her ancient Greek astronomy for the Da Vinci Days festival in May of 2018, and is currently working on another talk for the public library on counting infinity. Hagen is excited to see the strong interest in the broader community and is honored to be an informal math ambassador.
Branwen Purdy is a second-year graduate student doing research in the area of topological data analysis. In May 2018 Purdy marked one year of volunteering at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF). The CCCF is a women’s prison in Wilsonville, OR that works with Portland Community College to offer several education opportunities to women, including a GED certificate program. Specifically, Purdy works with women who are hoping to enter this program and need a refresher on their mathematics skills. Common topics include long division, fractions, decimals, and percentages. Volunteering at CCCF is always a highlight of her week, and she finds it empowering to be working with women who are so dedicated to making a positive change in their future.
This past spring, Purdy was accepted into the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) Science Communication Fellowship, with generous support from the College of Science and the Mathematics Department. She has participated in four deep-dive workshops on informal science learning and how to communicate academic research with a general audience. In addition to connecting with graduate students in other departments here at Oregon State University, she has been able to join a wider Portland network of scientists and engineers who care about fostering science curiosity in the next generation. This summer she will be participating in several OMSI public events, such as Meet-A-Scientist Day and OMSI After Dark, to share hands-on learning experiences about her research in topological data analysis.