Shaping the next generation of problem solvers: Eastlink and Dal celebrate 10 years of partnership on Math Circles

- July 5, 2024

Students participate in a math challenge at an Eastlink and Nova Scotia Math Circles event in the spring. (Nick Pearce photos)
Students participate in a math challenge at an Eastlink and Nova Scotia Math Circles event in the spring. (Nick Pearce photos)

Eastlink's unwavering support for Dal-based Nova Scotia Math Circles over past decade has enriched students in all areas of mathematics and helped shape the next generation of problem solvers. 

Students like Maria Mihai, a Grade 11 student from Charles P. Allen High School, who has been involved in Math Circles for the past eight years.

She credits her passion for math to her involvement in the program that was created by Dalhousie’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics more than 20 years ago. Math Circles sends math experts from Dal into classrooms around Nova Scotia to build engagement in the subject.

Maria was one of more than 50 students from Grades 6 to 12 from three local schools who attended a Math Circles celebration event at Dal in late April. Students enjoyed a pizza lunch while participating in interactive math stations, led by leaders from the Math Circles program.

“What made Math Circles special for me was the people I met,” Maria told attendees gathered April 23 in the Chase Building. “I found myself surrounded by other math enthusiasts, each bringing their unique perspectives and talents to the table.”


Maria Mihai, Math Circles enthusiast.

She said the program helped her to hone her problem-solving skills and participate in prestigious competitions like the Canadian Math Olympiad and the Asian Pacific Math Olympiad. 

As Maria looks towards the future, she said she is filled with excitement and possibility. 

“Thanks to Math Circles, I've discovered a passion for math that I never knew existed. I'm determined to pursue it further, whether it's through a math major in university or a career that puts my math skills to the test,” she said.

A powerful partnership


Eastlink’s generous support of $1 million over the past decade has allowed the Math Circles program to thrive, reaching more than 6,000 students Nova Scotia in 2023 alone.

Lee Bragg, executive vice chairman with the Halifax-based internet-service provider, has been involved in the partnership since day one.

Lee Bragg, executive vice chairman or Eastlink, with the Dal Tiger.

“I’m really happy to be here celebrating the power of Math Circles and its reach and impact on Nova Scotian students,” he said. “We have a long and meaningful relationship with Dalhousie built on shared values and principles.”

This partnership is rooted in mutual respect for the power of education. 

“I think what makes our connection with Dal and this program special is that we share the same desire for continuous learning and innovative problem-solving.”

Dal President Kim Brooks moderated the event.


Impacting Nova Scotian communities


Tom Potter, a PhD candidate and program director of NS Math Circles for the past six years, shared the impact the program has on Nova Scotian communities.

“We visit as many classes as we can so that no students miss out. Thanks to the generosity of Eastlink, all presentations are completely free for the schools. In the future, we would like to do more outreach to rural communities,” says Potter.  

Tom Potter, program director, NS Math Circles.

Phillip Jackson, an African Nova Scotian student support worker with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work Africentric Cohort program at Dalhousie University, closed the event by discussing the impact the program has on African Nova Scotian students and communities.  

“It’s essential to bridge that gap between math and science and to broaden Dalhousie’s community. [NS Math Circles] comes to our schools to help facilitate activities for us. They have after school programs that our students don’t always have the opportunity to come to. They come to us and that’s how they are able to broaden the student experience,” says Jackson.

(L-R: Tom Potter (program director, NS Math Circles), Dr. Chuck Macdonald (Dean, Faculty of Science), Lee Bragg (vice president, Eastlink), Dal Tiger, Jeff Gillham (chief executive officer, Eastlink), Dr. Kim Brooks (president, Dalhousie University), Maria Mihai (guest speaker) and Phillip Jackson (guest speaker).

To learn more about Nova Scotia Math Circles and how to get involved, please visit nsmathcircles.com.


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