October 2 Day 573: Gather ‘Round

It is amazing to think that my first post about the virtual networking application Gather Town (gather.town), was one year and one day ago. The first space I created from scratch was for the November 2020 UW Tacoma Julia Robinson Math Festival. It replicated William Philip Hall, where the festival would have been held in person if the pandemic had not intervened. Since then I expanded that space to recreate more of the UWT campus including the Snoqualmie Library Building (for the Teaching and Learning Center) and the third floor MDS building where my office exists IRL. The Julia Robinson Math Festival has since adopted Gather for their virtual monthly Festivals and really taken the creation of interactive spaces to new heights.

Entrance to the September JRMF

So for Day 2 of the National Association of Mathematician’s MATHFest, I worked with their leadership Dr. Naiomi Cameron, Dr. Leona Harris, and Dr. Shea Burns, to create a space for participant interaction, poster presentations, and a graduate fair that reflected their organization and its values. First let me say that Gather has really upgraded the building features for its users. There is much more precision in placing objects. There is the ability to edit a placed object. (When originally creating a space a year ago, I had to delete and recreate objects if I needed to edit them). There are SO MANY objects to chose from. And it is straight forward to import an image of your own to create a new object.

In the final analysis, I think we really pulled it off.

The presentations (linked to zoom) were in Howard University, the graduate fair and poster session in Spelman College, and Social games (and bonus escape room) in Morgan State University.
Problem Time I, II, and III were for student collaboration.

We sat in the lecture hall to connect to the Zoom presentations.

I chatted with the graduate students from Rutgers and met Corrine Yap (@corrine_yap) who I know from Twitter.

Virtual meetings are a pale imitation of meeting in the real world. It’s easy to get distracted. Priorities that are put aside when traveling to another location are not as easily dismissed when the rest of life continues in the same pattern. But virtual meetings are what we have for the moment and some form of virtual attendance will likely continue into the future. So we need to make the most of them. I believe Gather added value to this meeting. I have appreciated Gather’s vision since the start of the pandemic and their continual improvement throughout.

NAM’s MATHFest was about putting students front and center. Presentations and posters covered topics from combinatorics (like parking functions and Riordan arrays) to modeling Covid spread on cruise ships; from machine learning to the risk analysis of maternal mortality rates. Truly impressive.

The above image is only a portion of the total attendees. They just happened to be around for the official conference screenshot.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: