Shelly Jones, Ph.D. is a Professor of Mathematics Education, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT. Currently, Dr. Jones teaches undergraduate mathematics content and methods courses for pre-service teachers as well as graduate level mathematics content, curriculum and STEM courses for in-service teachers. Dr. Jones provides mathematics professional development locally, nationally and internationally. She is a contributing author of the book entitled, The Brilliance of Black Children in Mathematics: Beyond the Numbers and Toward a New Discourse and the author of Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians, a children’s activity book.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with Dr. Jones in an interview to talk about her work and the importance of STEM for our community.

Shelly Jones: I think I always liked math even as a child. There were certain teachers who really tapped into my interest in math. In particular, Mr. Chris Decker at Harding High School in Bridgeport. He made math fun and he made it come to life. Interestingly though I never thought about majoring in math and I’m not sure anyone ever mentioned it to me. I majored in Computer Science & Engineering, became a computer programmer, didn’t like it because it was too isolating. My mom told me about a teacher educator master’s degree program at the University of Bridgeport. I have enough math credits to go into the math teacher program and I’ve been an educator ever since.

Shelly Jones: This is a great question. I think many people have a very narrow view of mathematics. They think of school mathematics such as learning your basic math facts, using order of operations and solving equations & formulas. Math is that, but math is also in everything we see and do – patterns in art, notes in music, dosage in medicine, etc. If we think about the book & movie, *Hidden Figures*, we learned that the women were called “Human Computers” yet these women were all mathematicians. So, as soon as we change the word to computers we are taking away the “M” even though it is actually the math that plays the biggest role.

After Christine Darden earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics & math ed she became a research assistant in aerosol physics and then earned a master’s degree in APPLIED MATHEMATICS. When she was hired by NASA she realized that the Engineers were doing the same stuff that she was doing but she wasn’t getting paid the same as them or getting the same recognition. She went to her boss and challenged this and was soon promoted to Engineer. Applied Mathematicians work in many fields such as the medical field, statistics/population studies, physics, and more. Because of this I think the “M” gets hidden in those other fields.

Shelly Jones: I’ll start with a caution for teachers and then provide advice for students and parents. Many children develop math anxiety because of the myth that to be good at math you must be fast at math. We want students to know their math facts but it doesn’t mean we have to make them show their knowledge in these mad minutes. Some students in fact like these competitive timed tests but far and large it has been shown that this type of testing is stressful for students and causes math anxiety. Instead we should continue the trend that many educators are doing that have student really learn about numbers through Number Talks and other exercises where students are not only learning their facts but they are reasoning about the numbers. My advice to students is to think about how you and your parents use math every day. Talk about it with your parents and siblings. Try to make sense of it in your own way. If you can do that then you won’t be so anxious about math. Just so you know, mathematicians are usually pretty slow when they first learn something. They are curious about how the math works (numbers, patterns, shapes and more), they ask questions and they start to recognize patterns and connections. They talk about the math with others and they make conjectures like “I wonder if this will work?” If you do that, you are thinking like a mathematician.

**Amy Sailor** serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access for the Connecticut Science Center. In this role, she stewards the 14 members Steering Committee of the Women in Science Initiative. Amy also implements a suite of programs and events that bring attention to the accomplishments of women in the sciences and introduces girls and young women to STEM fields of study and career paths.

We were inspired by our new traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs Around the World for this Science Sunday. Opening this weekend, March 6, 12 animatronic dinosaurs will be taking over the Science Center. How have we been able to learn so much about these amazing creatures that lived millions of years before the first humans walked the Earth? With some science of course! Fossils of these dinosaurs have been preserved in rocks which scientists and researchers have uncovered and analyzed to learn what they looked like and how they lived.

Today, we are going to show you a fun, edible way you can explore fossils at home. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

**Aoife Ryle** is a STEM Educator at the Connecticut Science Center. In addition to working with school groups, she works with our Teen Program, Overnights department, and shoots weekly science segments for WFSB. She has a degree in Bioengineering from the University of Maine and has a personal interest in the life sciences and engineering which makes bioengineering a perfect crossover.

**Mark Dixon** is a meteorologist on WFSB Channel 3 Eyewitness News and a host of the weekly Science Sunday segments with the Connecticut Science Center. He has been nominated for several Emmy awards for weather anchoring and has won awards from the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association and the American Meteorological society.

We have received so many amazing questions through our Dear Science campaign, including this one from Malarhy, age 6. **Do animals evolve anymore?** Evolution is something we have all learned about it science class as a process that occurs over multiple generations of a species. Is this something that stills happens, do animals still evolve today? Keep watching to learn one example of evolution that happened probably more recently that you would expect.