Journal of Math Circles

Biographical Sketch

Janice F. Rech, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been Co-PI of the Robert Noyce Teacher Partnership Scholarship at UNO for the past 5 years. In this capacity, she has mentored Interns and Scholars and worked with them as they have presented Student Math Circles and worked with Math Teacher Circles for students and teachers throughout the Omaha metro area. Dr. Rech has organized and facilitated Math Teacher Circles in the area for the past ten years. She has also participated in Circle on the Road and the Julia Robinson Math Festival. Dr. Rech's other interests include Inquiry Based Learning in calculus and the development of active learning materials. Additionally, Janice serves as a College Board AP Calculus Consultant and works with AP Calculus teachers across the country to help them become better prepared to meet the needs of their students.

Paula Jakopovic, PhD., is an Instructor of STEM Education in the Teacher Education program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is a past CoPI and current senior personnel on the Track 1 Noyce NSF grant that funds undergraduate internships and scholarships for potential secondary mathematics teachers. In this role, she has mentored undergraduate students in the development and enactment of SMCs (Student Math Circles), in escape rooms for middle level mathematics students. She has also attended and presented at local Teacher Math Circles hosted at UNO, aimed at engaging local K-12 educators in collaborative mathematics. In addition to her work with the Noyce grant, Paula is senior personnel aimed at supporting the growing network of regional IBL (Inquiry Based Learning) Communities across the U.S. Prior to her work at UNO, Paula was a full time elementary mathematics coach and curriculum specialist for the Omaha Public Schools, and briefly served as a consultant for RMC Research Corporation. She continues to provide professional development and consultant services for local and regional K-12 school districts in the areas of mathematics, instructional coaching, and data driven decision making.

Hannah Seidl is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha studying Mathematics and Secondary Education as well as a minor in Geography. Hannah has been a Noyce Scholar for three semesters. During her time with Noyce she has participated in the creation of escape rooms for student math circles as well as lead and facilitated these events.

Greg Lawson is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, majoring in Mathematics and Secondary Education. He has been engaged as a Noyce Scholar for the past year and previously was a Noyce Intern. Greg has been involved in numerous community outreach STEM activities, including being a lead member on the team that created the escape rooms for Student Math Circles.

Rachel Pugh is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She is majoring in Mathematics and Secondary Education with a minor in Psychology. Rachel has been a Noyce Scholar for three semesters at UNO. During this time, she has helped with the creation and execution of math themed escape rooms for student circles.


Engaging middle and high school students in Math Circles requires time, planning and creativity. Finding novel approaches to maintain the interest of a variety of learners can be challenging. This paper outlines a model for developing and implementing math escape rooms as a unique structure for facilitating collaborative problem solving in a Math Circle. These escape rooms were designed and hosted by undergraduate secondary mathematics education majors. We provide possible structures for hosting escape rooms that could translate to a range of settings, as well as reflections and lessons learned through our experiences that could inform practitioners in other settings.

Description of Program

Student Math Circles have been conducted as part of the NebraskaMATH Omaha Noyce Partnership. This NSF-funded program identifies and supports future math teachers and provides opportunities for STEM outreach.

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Janice Rech, PhD