Connect-It Games

Along with my math major I am getting a secondary education minor and coaching minor.  With my degree I am planning on being a high school mathematics teacher.  throughout my classes in the education department I have leaned many ways to attempt to reach the students in different ways.  One very good way to reach students is to have them do something they think is fun but implement the subject into the task.  For my research program I studied Connect-It Games on graphs.  These are games that are played on a set of points and two players play against each other to either connect all the points or disconnect the points.

My topic was based on the mathematical paper “Connect-It Games” written by Frank Harary and Robert W. Robinson. In this I researched theorems in Graph Theory that prove who must win these graph games in certain scenarios. When there are a certain number of points on these graphs a certain player must win the game.  My goal in this research was to figure out who would always win the games and how they would play to be able to win. These games would be very good for students to play and then have them figure out who was always winning and making their own conjectures. I will be able to expand on this topic and look at more games that involve different types of math to help my education career.

~ Stacy Bergeson

January Faculty Development Event

Monday, January 13, 2014

8:30 a.m. Breakfast in the Carver Atrium

9:00 – 10:15 Choose one of the following

  • Class Presentations: Getting Students Prepared and Giving Them Feedback

Panelists will each share one specific thing they do in class to help students prepare to give good presentations and briefly share how they give students feedback. The panelists will be Lisa Carponelli-Lovell, Jackie Crawford, Ryan Rehmeier, and Judy Walden, . Whether or not you are teaching a course with an OC designation, if you requiring students to do presentations in class, this session is for you.

  • How to Provide Feedback that Students Really Use

Faculty do not write comments on students’ papers for their own health; they do it to help students improve their writing. Unfortunately, students do not always use the feedback they receive. In this interactive session, Beth Beggs will help faculty identify ways of giving better feedback in a way that increases the chances that students are willing and able to use their feedback. Beth will also offer a concrete tips for getting students to utilize feedback.

10:30 – 11:45 Choose one of the following

  • Engaging Students in Service: Engaging Students in Learning

This panel discussion will address the benefits and challenges of using service learning as part of a class. Panelists will provide faculty new to service learning with ideas of how they can incorporate it into their classes. Service learning can be particularly effective in Simpson Colloquium courses, but it can be used in upper level courses as well and in any discipline. In order to best answer any and all questions, the panel will include Jorie Landers, Simpson’s Service Coordinator; Taylor Sharp, a junior SC leader who taught students in Sal Meyers’ SC service-learning course how to train shelter dogs; Denise Clark, the head of the Second Change Dog Rescue of Iowa; and faculty members with experience incorporating service learning.

  • Incorporating a MOOC into a Class

This fall Jim Palmieri incorporated a MOOC into one of his classes. In this session Jim will share his experiences and advice about using MOOCs. Jim will also teach you how to find online materials (MOOCs and other free materials) that you can use in your own classes.


Internship at Principal Financial Group

This past summer I was able to intern at Principal Financial Group in downtown Des Moines. I worked in Information Technology as a Quality Assurance Analyst for life insurance products. I am a math and computer science major and I had the opportunity to blend my skills from both areas. It was great to actually get out there into the real world and see what corporate life is like. I learned a lot just by being in the company about work life and the financial world. I also learned about information technology and the different roles within it and how they all work together. They have a great internship program and it really helped open my eyes to the different opportunities out there. It was an excellent opportunity and I met a lot of great people. It was a good way to spend my summer and I was asked to return full time after graduation. I couldn’t have done this without the help of my professors at Simpson.

~Kylie Van Houten

Undergraduate Research – Mathematics Final Presentations

You are invited to the final presentations given by our senior mathematics students enrolled in Math 385 or Math 386.  The students in Math 385 are working on undergraduate research projects one-on-one with a faculty mentor.  The students in Math 386 completed a summer internship or research experience and are communicating the interesting mathematics learned during the experience with the Simpson community.  The talks will be held in three sessions

Wednesday, December 11, 8:00-10:00am, Jordan Lecture Hall
Junior Rodriguez
Ethan Newman
Nathan May – Medata in Social Networks
Emily Dornbusch – Fractal Dimensions
Addi O’Conner

Thursday, December 12, 8:00-10:00am, Carver Science 312
Heather Malbon – Graph Theory and Economics
Jessica Stillmunkes – Actuarial Internship
Michael Frank – Investigating Anthropogenic Mammoth Extinction with Mathematical Models
Abby Lantzky – Actuarial Internship at Principal Financial

Thursday, December 12, 1:00-3:00pm, Jordan Lecture Hall
Max Nguyen – The Value of Flexibility for Major League Baseball Teams
Corey Sterling – Colored Bridge Problem
Stacy Bergeson – Connect-It Games
Rob Heise

Style Me London!

If you’re planning on coming to London for SCLondon15, I have some advice for you. Leave the sweats at home! Okay, maybe bring one or two pairs, but don’t plan on wearing them to outside of your flat building. That’s just preposterous!

Well, I suppose you can wear them out if you really want to. You probably won’t see many people following your lead though. People don’t really wear sweats here unless they are going to or coming back from the gym. It’s not the outfit of choice like it seems to be back in Iowa. At least that’s what I’ve noticed.

You’ll also probably notice that people in the UK don’t really follow anyone’s lead style-wise. They just kind of do their own thing. I suppose there are some hairstyles that may be celebrity influenced, and people typically wear the same types of clothing. For example, I think pretty much everyone wears, or at least owns, skinny jeans here. But somehow, people usually manage to make their outfits look unique. There’s not really a mold of how the typical Londoner dresses.

London Style, Study Abroad London, Photo Credit Matt Seaward

The residents of Bede 1 are headed to the races. Photo courtesy of Matt Seaward

Another thing you’ll likely notice? People like to dress up, or dress in fancy dress as they call it in the UK. In fact, there are even locales that require fancy dress. In my opinion one of the oddest locales to require such dress is the races (horse races). You definitely don’t see that too often at Prairie Meadows in Altoona!

So when you are packing for your London adventure in two years, think twice about packing that second pair of sweats. Maybe pack a nice shirt or two, a pair of dress trousers and a pair of nice shoes instead. And never ever use the full amount of room in your suitcase. Chances are you’ll go shopping (and no one like to pay for overweight luggage or that dreaded second bag). And who knows, maybe you’ll end up creating your very own London style.

Help create a giant Tetris board!

Help construct a giant Tetris board! We will be working with balsa wood, poster board, hot-glue guns, and LED chains to assemble the board. Dr. Craven has proto-typed one 5×5 module as seen here. To assemble the board a total of nine more modules are needed. (Standard Tetris is played on a 10 by 22 grid, this will give us a 10×25 board.)

We hope to get the board completely assembled Monday night. After Monday we will hook the board up to a Raspberry Pi computer running a Python script. Then we can program a giant version of Tetris controllable via a web interface for mobile phones.

Come to Carver Science Building in Indianola on December 2 2013 at 6:30 pm. We will meet in the CS lab and then find an open room to work in, probably 231 or 240. If you have any extra x-acto knives, cutting boards, or glue guns bring them along.

2013 ACM International Intercollegiate Programming Contest


11 Simpson students performed extremely well in the North Central Regional of the ACM International Intercollegiate Programming Contest on Saturday November 9 2013. Out of 260 teams, the team of Linsey Williams, Joel Gawarecki, and Jaris van Maanen finished in 44th place (top 20%), solving 3 out of the 8 problems. Two other Simpson teams solved 2 problems and the 4th team solved 1 problem. The contest problems are so difficult that many teams solve no problems at all.

The North Central Regional took place at about 15 sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan, Western Ontario and Manitoba. Our teams participated at Grandview University, against teams from Grandview and Drake. Out of about 25 teams at the Grandview site, the team of Linsey, Joel and Jaris finished in first place overall, an impressive achievement.

The other students who partipicated were: Ben Dimit, Jacob Feld, Evan Kimberlin, Mike Henry, Jacob Williams, Kendra Klocke, Thomas Klein, Tony Clark. This was the second year that our students have participated in the ACM contest, and they had clearly learned from previous experience and from extensive preparation and practice.

The contest problems and results are available here:






Individual Research in Business Administration and Economics

Individual research: An opportunity for further learning that many students at Simpson take advantage of.

Senior accounting major Molly Hill can be counted among Accounting senior Molly Hill (golf pic)this group.  Molly was looking for an independent study option to get to the 150 credit hour total required for the CPA exam. While talking with her advisor, Professor Juffernbruch, the LNR project in the Emerge@Simpson business incubator was suggested as a potential option.  She would be able to earn credit for independent research and take part in a developing business. LNR is an innovative pavement marketing system that was brought to Emerge for business development.  The technology had been tested, but as a business venture, it needed some work.

“I was doing research about the pricing strategy.  They needed to know the lowest price they could sell the product and remain competitive in the market”


With her background in accounting and in particular her cost accounting work, she got started doing research in the field of concrete striping.

“I was given DOT contract data from the state of Illinois, and I researched Iowa contracts to compare and determine average cost per foot of striping.”


Comparing information from DOT contracts from surrounding Midwest states, Molly was able to find the price point at which LNR can be sold profitably and compete with the other commercial option available: paint striping.  The project allowed Molly to apply previously learned knowledge and to develop new skills in statistical analysis.

Like many students who become involved with Emerge, Molly was at first overwhelmed by the project.  There is a huge question, but how to get to the answer?  Through conversations with Emerge director, Chris Draper, and with Professor Juffernbruch, Molly developed her research plan of how to break the project down into smaller component parts.  As fall semester is drawing to a close, Molly is continuing to work on the project, verifying her calculations, and will be able to present her data to the LNR team.

With her excellent academic background and this research experience, we’re certain Molly will find a successful career in her future!

Summer Research Programs – Find the REU 4 U!

Summer research programs enable you to:

• explore your field of study,
• visit universities, labs, and institutes across the country
• meet other exceptional undergraduate students, and
• build your resume and/or graduate school application.

Moreover, most programs pay participants several thousand dollars in addition to covering housing and travel expenses.

For more information, come to a short presentation and panel discussion on

Friday, December 6, from 3:30pm-4:30pm
Jordan Lecture Hall, Carver Science.

John Cord – Graduate Update

Mathematics and Economics double major John Cord (’13) recently accepted an offer from Franklin American Mortgage (FAM) to work as a Market Analyst.  Currently John is attending graduate school at Belmont University in their Master’s in Sports Administration program.  While in the program this fall John attended a Career Fair sponsored by Belmont that lead to interviews with three companies that all made offers.  FAM created a new position for John so they can start using big data and analytics to help their company grow.  It is hoped that John’s work will be successful and eventually lead to the development of a formal analytics department that John will head up.

FAM was interested in hiring John for this position due to the fact he enjoys working with large data sets and developing relevant models.  For fun, John has been developing his own models to predict offensive and defensive efficiencies for football teams and college football coaching outcomes.  FAM was also impressed with the fact that while at Simpson College John was a member of a 2013 Mathematical & Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling  team that earned a Meritorious Award on the Interdisciplinary problem.  Their solution finished in the top 136 of 1329 solutions submitted from around the world.  This outcome provided FAM ample evidence that John exceled working as a member of a team under a tight deadline and that he was capable of applying what he learned in the classroom.