Outreach Programs

Due to campus closures and social distancing imperatives, the 2020 MathFest on April 4th is cancelled. The workshop will be rescheduled for a date during the fall 2020 term. We're sorry for the disappointment, but need to keep the community safe and the faculty focused on undergraduate teaching during these difficult times.

F.L. Griffin MathFest

Since 1987, the Reed College mathematics department has sponsored a Saturday workshop in the spring for area high school students and teachers interested in mathematics enrichment. The workshop gives students and teachers a hands-on opportunity to work on interesting problems in a mathematical topic complementary to the high school curriculum. Recent topics have included "Tangles, Braids, Knots, and Numbers," "Divisors and Sandpiles," "Regular Polytopes in Three and More Dimensions," "Turing Machines," "Trigonometry by Example," and "To Capture Infinity."

There is no cost to participants. Lunch and campus tour provided.
Registration is limited to 25 high school students, plus teachers.

Program schedule


Parentheses, Paths, and Partitions: Catalan Combinatorics

Saturday, April 4, 2020
9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

What do lattice walks, handshakes across a table, card shuffling patterns, binary trees, triangulations, and parenthesizations have in common? They can all be counted with Catalan numbers! In this short course, participants will delve into the history and contemporary relevance of these combinatorial structures. Expect to learn new counting techniques, engage your problem solving skills, and be exposed to several elementary problems that the mathematical community hasn't solved --- yet!

Faculty Presenters

Kyle Ormsby, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Nick Davidson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Jonathan Wells, Visiting Assistant Professor of Statistics


  • High school student
  • Enthusiasm for mathematics and a good preparation in basic algebra and geometry
  • Pre-registration required no later than March 30, 2020

Availabile for download

2020 Program Announcement

2020 Registration Form