Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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Math From A to Zed: IMSA Faculty Member Conducts Geometry Workshops in England and Austria

By IMSA Mathematics Faculty Member Dr. Vince Matsko

The “universal language” of geometry unites IMSA Mathematics Faculty Member Dr. Vince Matsko with eager learners in England and Austria.

IMSA Mathematics Faculty Member Dr. Vince Matsko leads a geometry workshop for students in Canterbury, England.
Students at the Langton Institute for Young Mathematicians in England use IMSA's polyhedra curriculum to build their own sculpture.

"It seems that geometry is a universal language," comments Dr. Vince Matsko of  IMSA's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science after returning from a trip abroad.  

"Students everywhere enjoy learning through building - they have a real sense of accomplishment when they've finished a particular nice model," he said.

Matsko recently returned from Europe, where he conducted 20 hours of geometry workshops in Canterbury, England, and a four-hour workshop in Graz, Austria.  His first stop was the Simon Langton Grammar School, where his colleague Dr. Snezana Lawrence directs the Langton Insitute for Young Mathematicians (LIYM).

"I organized some videoconferences with Dr. Lawrence's students and my class on polyhedra last Spring, so it was wonderful to finally get to meet her students face-to-face."Matsko met Dr. Lawrence last summer at a conference in Mexico, where they began planning their transatlantic collaboration.

"The workshops went extremely well," said Matsko.  "We all got along very well together.  The students were eager and enthusiastic."

Matsko worked with grades 7-9, as well as with the LIYM fellows, from June 22-June 26.  The workshops were conducted in place of Dr. Lawrence's usual classes, so the schedule was like a typical school week. 

"It was a great experience to teach in a school in England for a week,” Matsko said.
“The routine was a bit different, but the students there were very much like students here," he said.

The highlight of the week was working with geometric sculpture.

"The IMSA students in my polyhedra class last Spring made a video of how to build a really challenging sculpture,” Matsko said   “Dr. Lawrence's students successfully used the video to build one of their own.  I felt very proud of my students' work."  

More information about the sculpture can be found at under "Polyhedra and Geodesics."

The next stop was Graz, Austria, to visit Matsko’s colleague Dr. Robert Geretschlaeger of Bundesrealgymnasium Kepler Graz.

"The trip was mostly a vacation, but I did get to watch a math contest being run on July 3, and I conducted a workshop the morning of July 6."  

The workshop was open to all interested students. “We had a self-selected group of about a dozen really interested students,” Matsko said.  “Their English was quite good, and Dr. Geretachlaeger and two other math teachers were also there to help out."  

A brief story about the workshop is available on the school's website:

The next step?  Matsko is interested in returning, and possibly creating some student exchange programs.  

"The school has a focus on Kepler and astronomy, and so an exchange with IMSA would be ideal. There are a few other teachers interested there as well."

For more information about the workshops Matsko conducted, visit

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