“Math in the Mountains” Brings Math Olympians to Teach Young Learners in Jackson

Teton Science Schools program hosts renowned mathematicians to mix math recreations with outdoor adventures

Many of today’s top thinkers developed their creative minds and problem solving skills through learning mathematics. CEOs and founders of Google, Microsoft, General Electric, Netflix and Pepsi all studied math. Scientists with math backgrounds are unlocking the mysteries of human health and climate issues. However, parents, professors, and policymakers tend to agree that the state of today’s math education is concerning, particularly with the advent of generative artificial intelligence. Will the next generation be equipped to solve humanity’s problems?

Math in the Mountains was launched in 2023 in Jackson Hole to answer this question, reinventing the way math is taught by mixing mathematical recreations with outdoor adventures to foster creativity, imaginative thinking, grit and resilience, and intellectual risk-taking. The program was founded by Paul Zeitz, coach of the first U.S. team to win the International Math Olympiad and founder of one of the world’s top math-focused schools (Proof School), and Andrew Chung, leading venture capital investor. Zeitz lived in Jackson while studying for his Ph.D. years ago, and Chung is a Wilson resident who serves on the boards of Teton Science Schools and Harvard’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

“True mathematicians are explorers, and we set out to shape that mindset in our young mathematicians by doing amazing math in an adventurous place with a stellar faculty,” said Chung. Launched in June 2023, 20 math-loving students (ages 10 to 12) and 20 schoolteachers selected from around the world attended an intensive week-long camp hosted at Teton Science Schools. Courses ranged from “Geometry of Complex Numbers” to “Infinities”, from “Mathematics of Fairness” to “Rational Tangles.” Campers studied college-level mathematics taught in a way accessible to precocious young learners. In parallel, they engaged in activities meant to be mentally and physically challenging, including whitewater rafting on the Snake River, a wilderness expedition in Grand Teton National Park, and summiting Rendezvous Mountain.


Math in the Mountains returns June 22 to July 5, with twice the number of students. At the heart of this year’s program is a group of award-winning mathematicians and leading educators, including Math Olympiad legends (Paul Zeitz, Po-Shen Loh, John Berman); founders of gifted math camps and talent search programs (Ken Ono, Mira Bernstein); math curriculum heads at leading STEM schools (Nueva School, Proof School, Helios School); and applied mathematicians (Andrew Chung). University of Wyoming President, Ed Seidel, will be a visiting faculty member.


The plenary lectures at Math in the Mountains program will be open to the broader Jackson Hole community and feature free public events hosted at Teton Science Schools:


Sunday, June 23, 7:30 PM — Ken Ono, award-winning mathematician, former Team USA triathlete, and film producer, will present a lecture on the significance of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a prodigy who went undiscovered in India until a Cambridge mathematician identified his talent. Ramanujan had little formal training in mathematics, but made substantial contributions to the field and solved several notable problems considered unsolvable at that time. This talk will help us understand Ramanujan’s remarkable intellect, featuring clips from the acclaimed film, The Man Who Knew Infinity, which Ono co-produced.  Ono teaches mathematics at the University of Virginia, received the Presidential Career Award for his work on partitions, and advises NCAA champions and Olympic medalists.


Monday, June 24, 1:30 PM — Ed Seidel, President of University of Wyoming and noted physicist and astronomer, will give a talk on how mathematics plays into the study of black holes and Einsteinian physics. The lecture will highlight the importance of math in the understanding of the universe and explore how advanced computing methods are used for scientific advancement. Prior to moving to Wyoming, Seidel was an administrator and professor at the University of Illinois. He also led the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.


Tuesday, June 25, 1:30 PM — Andrew Chung, Founding Partner of 1955 Capital, will explore how mathematical thinking affects decision making, inspire smart risk-taking, and lead to an innovative mindset, whether you are an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, or mountaineer. Why study algebra? Why do proofs in geometry class? Why learn graph theory or combinatorics? Chung studied Applied Mathematics at Harvard before a 25-year career as an entrepreneur and investor in sustainability and health. Chung was previously a General Partner at Khosla Ventures and investor at Lightspeed and Bain Capital.


Thursday, June 27, 7:30 PM — Po-Shen Loh, National Team Coach of the U.S. Math Olympiad team, will speak about “How To Thrive In the Age of AI.” As AI advances at shocking speed, what is the future of humanity? How should people develop skills that will still be useful in a world filled with automation? Loh will share his experience inventing global-scale solutions for pandemic control and reinventing math education. He will offer his recommendations on how to lean into what makes us human, how to navigate the future landscape of education (including college), and how to learn how to solve unfamiliar problems. Loh is professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon and founded Expii, a social enterprise that improves lives through education and healthcare.

Those in the Jackson Hole community interested in attending these events or learning more about Math in the Mountains can email mitm.admissions@gmail.com or visit http://mathmountains.org

Share this post: