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Santa Clara Math Circle: Making Numbers Fun

Mathematics and fun? For many, the two concepts are as far removed as Neptune is from the Sun.

Mathematics is a subject which many children – and adults – unfortunately detest. Santa Clara Math Circle seeks to change that.

“We aim to change how math is perceived,” said Arnav Ahuja, founder and president of Santa Clara Math Circle (SCMC).


“I strongly believe that by changing the way we present math to students, we can change the feeling of dread some students develop – I say ‘develop’ since they all started their math journey with excitement and fun, but something changed along the way,” said Ahuja.

“We can reverse that. We plan to reintroduce a mathematical way of thinking and rekindle the joy through our festivals – they truly are a celebration of mathematics, with our target audience ranging from 1 to 100 years old!”

The Julia Robinson Math Festival was held on Jan. 13 at the Northside Branch Library in partnership with Santa Clara Math Circle. Over 100 students participated in the event.

“We partnered with Julia Robinson Math Festival organization to bring Math Festivals that include puzzles and games to math enthusiasts of all ages,” Ahuja explained.

“Through fun, engaging, standard-aligned and hands-on math puzzles and games, everyone gets to experience math in a refreshing and accessible way, thus promoting a love of math!” continued Ahuja.

One of the most popular puzzles in the event was the Jumping Julia Maze.

“It consists of a set of interlocking squares with numbers on them along with a Start and Goal square and is placed on the floor,” Ahuja said.

“The Maze had different variants in increasing order of difficulty. Kids and some adults really enjoyed finding the various paths to solve the maze,” Ahuja continued. “There were several solutions, and people came back to solve mazes again and again.”

One does not have to be a Putnam Fellow to take part in this event. People of all skill levels are welcome to participate.

“Our goal at SCMC is to create and nurture curiosity and an affinity for math in all,” said Ahuja. “The activities are carefully chosen to ensure that we accommodate people of all skill levels.

“We’ve had several grandparents sitting besides their grandchildren and solving the puzzles,” continued Ahuja. “It’s so wonderful to see people of all ages enjoying these mathematical machinations. Furthermore, the activities have different difficulty levels to keep everyone engaged and challenged. This keeps the advanced folks engaged, as well as gives anyone who does not have a proclivity to math a gentle introduction to the beauty of mathematics.

“Through fun, engaging, standards-aligned and hands-on math puzzles and games, everyone gets to experience math in a refreshing and accessible way, thus promoting a love of math,” Ahuja added.

For those who dreaded their mathematics examinations in high school, there is a stress of no stress in the festival.

“We promote collaboration over competition, so no one is left feeling they know less or more. It is about the joy of discovering a solution together, tackling a challenge together and being math champions together,” Ahuja explained.

In Silicon Valley, promoting a love of mathematics is especially rewarding. Studies suggest that a firm understanding of algebra is the best indicator of whether someone pursues a scientific career.

The next mathematics festival will be held on March 9 at the Central Park Library. All are welcome to participate. To find out more about the Santa Clara Math Circle, visit the website at

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