Journal of Math Circles

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Tien Chih grew up in Hilo, Hawaii receiving a bachelors degree from the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 2007. Afterwards, he attended the University of Montana in Missoula, MT for his graduate work. It is here that he was first introduced to Math Circles and math outreach programs. He currently holds the rank of Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Montana State University-Billings where his interests include math outreach, open educational resources in mathematics, and supervising undergraduate work, particularly in his area of categorical graph theory. He is married with two children and imagines himself an amateur chef.


Global Math Week is an annual event started by Dr. James Tanton and the Global Math Project, connecting students around the world with the mathematics of Exploding Dots. Exploding Dots is a reconceptualization of the mechanics of arithmetic, which allows for a visually intuitive and accessible representation of a variety of mathematical topics ranging from different base representations to the arithmetic of polynomials and series. In this manuscript, we describe the first implementation of Exploding Dots at the MSU-Billings Math Circle. The actual itemized agenda of the session is described, followed by highlights of the session and observations by the author. In particular, as many of the students who participated were of a younger age, or were otherwise less experienced mathematically than others, these specific challenges were addressed. The author offers some insight from their experience conducting this activity, and advice for those who wish to implement similar activities in their outreach programs.

Description of Program

The MSU-Billings Math Circle is a student circle serving Billings Area students grade 4 through 8. We are located in Billings, Montana. The website for the circle may be found here: https://www.msubillings.edu/mathfaculty/tchih/mathcircle.html. The best way to contact the circle is through it’s director:

– Dr. Tien Chih

– phone: 406-657-2939

– email: tien.chih@msubillings.edu