BEAM Faculty Doing Great Things: Ben Blum-Smith on Math and Democracy

Ben with students at Ted

Our summer staff do amazing things! Recently, Ben Blum-Smith was named to the Spring 2018 class of TED Residents, which is a chance for big thinkers to workshop and share their big ideas with others. 

As the culminating experience of the residency, Ben and his fellow residents each gave a TED talk (not online yet!). Ben invited three BEAM students to the talks, both his and the fellow residents, and they had this to say about the experience:

Attending this talk impacted me on a philosophical, emotional, and most importantly educational level. I met an urban planner, that was cool. I’m into math and politics, so that was cool. And revolutionizing data collection is awesome. I’m very excited about this opportunity. It was awesome.
— Abrahan, 12th grade
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Representation matters a tremendous amount to me and seeing people like me, as well as people from diverse backgrounds, was inspiring. I heard ideas on topics that matter to me, like an imbalance of resources to people of lower income as well as other amazing ideas that I haven’t thought much about.
The entire show, I visualized myself on stage. I imagined one day being able to give a TED talk myself. This experience has been so inspiring.
— Camila, 8th grade
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The best way to learn something new is to simply do more of it. Last summer, [at BEAM 7 at Union College,] I went to lecture on voting which was really interesting. Now, I’ve been to both of Ben’s talks on gerrymandering [at TED and at the Museum of Mathematics]. The thing that has helped me get better and be more interested in math is seeing the bigger things that I could do in math or physics once I learn the practical parts. These things can be fun and interesting, and last a long time in my mind.
— Porter, 8th grade
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Ben: keep up the incredible work! Thanks so much for inviting BEAM students along for the ride. 

PS: Keep an eye on the Museum of Mathematics' YouTube page for a link to Ben's longer Math Encounters. 

Ben Blum-Smith is a teacher and mathematician who is exploring the interface between math and democracy. He also works to broaden access to the field, through organizations such as the Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics and the Bard Prison Initiative.