The 2022 Rosenthal Prize
for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching

Designed to recognize and promote hands-on math teaching in upper elementary and middle school classrooms, the Rosenthal Prize carries a cash award of $25,000 for the single best activity, plus up to five additional monetary awards for other innovative activities.  The winning teacher(s) will have the opportunity to share their activities with educators around the world.

The application window for the 2022 Rosenthal Prize has closed.

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Teachers, want to learn how to deliver past prize-winning lessons in your own communities?

Learn about The Rosenthal Prize Summer Institute.

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Congratulations to the 2021 Rosenthal Prize winners!

From left to right: Steven Strogatz (2021-22 MoMath Distinguished Visiting Professor and Rosenthal Prize judge), John Urschel (MoMath Trustee), Chaim Goodman-Strauss (2021 Rosenthal Prize 1st place winner), Saul Rosenthal (MoMath Trustee and Rosenthal Prize sponsor and judge), Elena Pavelescu (2021 Rosenthal Prize 3rd place winner), David Caliri (2021 Rosenthal Prize 2nd place winner), and Cindy Lawrence (MoMath Executive Director/CEO and Rosenthal Prize judge).  Not pictured: Ryan Smith (2021 Rosenthal Prize honorable mention).

Congratulations to Chaim Goodman-Strauss, first place winner of the 2021 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching for his lesson on symmetry, “Tooti Tooti (2222).”  Chaim’s winning lesson teaches students about symmetry by crafting handmade “tiles” with four different points of two-fold rotational symmetry (i.e., the patterns remain the same as you rotate them 180 degrees) and piecing the tiles together into patterns that can fill an infinite space, similar to wallpaper patterns.  Chaim is a professor of mathematics at the University of Arkansas, and he was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

David Caliri, who currently lives in Tbilisi, Georgia, and works for a Boston-based organization that grew out of the MIT Media Lab, was awarded second place for his lesson, “Binary Coins Are Better Than Bitcoin!”  His interactive lesson allows students to learn about the binary number system by pretending to be business owners and creating their own currency to make exact change for product sales.  David was awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

Third place winner Elena Pavelescu, Associate Professor in the Mathematics and Statistics Department at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL, was recognized for her lesson, “The Game of Cats: A mathematical logic activity,” which teaches students logic by asking them to interpret “and” and “or” statements.  Elena was awarded a $2,500 cash prize.

Ryan Smith of Lake Worth, FL received an honorable mention for his lesson, “Astronaut Explorer: A Measurement Conversion Conundrum,” which allows students to take on the role of astronauts exploring a new planet on which they must learn about the civilization’s measurement system.  This activity promotes genuine thinking, decoding, and reasoning, and is designed to help students construct procedures for converting from one unit to another using ratios.  Ryan was awarded a $500 cash prize.

The awards were presented to the winners at the March Math Encounters presentation.

Winning Lesson Plans from Previous Years

2020 1st Place
Doug O’Roark
“Towers & Dragons”
2020 Runner-up
Lauren Siegel
“Engagement with Ratio and Proportion: Building a Tool to Deepen Understanding”
2019 1st Place
Nat Banting
“Dice Auction: Putting Outcomes of the Dice Up for Sale”
2019 Runner-up
Matt Roscoe
“Building the City of Numbers: An Exploration of Unique Prime Factorization”
2018 1st Place
Elizabeth Masslich
“Geometry Project: DARTBOARD”
2018 1st Runner-up
Hector Rosario
“Squareland: Into How Many Squares Can You Cut a Square?”
2018 Runner-up
Dwaynea (Golden) Griffin
“Statistics Tri‘M’athlon”
2018 Runner-up
Kristen Rudd
“Searching for Intersections”
2017 1st Place
Matt Engle
“Bringing Similarity Into Light: Experiencing Similarity and Dilations Using Shadows”
2017 2nd Place
Heather Danforth-Clayson
“Derangements and Random Rearrangements: An Exploration of Probability”
2017 Runner-up
Elisabeth Jaffe
“Dancing Transformations”
2017 Runner-up
David Poras
“Growing Alligators: How Big Will It Grow?”
2016 1st Place
Traci Jackson
“Creating Color Combos: Visual Modeling of Equivalent Ratios”
2016 2nd Place
Dena Lordi
“Where Can I Find A Weightless Stick”
2016 Runner-up
Crystal Frommert
“Algebra on a Number Line”
2016 Runner-up
Maria Hernandez
“Pass the Candy: A Recursion Activity”
2016 Runner-up
Jemal Graham
“Blacktop Coordinate Plane”
2015 1st Place
Jillian Young
“MUTANT Creature Invasion: Minecraft Volume Investigation”
2014 1st Place
Ralph Pantozzi
“Random Walk”
2013 1st Place
Trang Vu
“Mathematics and Fashion Design”
2013 Runner-up
Brent Ferguson
“Engineering a Number Line by Construction”
2012 1st Place
Scott Goldthorp
“Hands-On Data Analysis”
2012 Runner-up
Patrick Honner
“Sphere Dressing”

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2020 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Doug O’Roark, winner of the 2020 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching, for his lesson “Towers & Dragons.”  In Doug’s lesson, students discover a stunning connection between paper folding and a classic disc-moving puzzle.  Doug is the Executive Director of Math Circles of Chicago.  He was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Additional congratulations to the 2020 runner-up, Lauren Siegel, the Director of MathHappens Foundation in Austin, TX, for her lesson “Engagement with Ratio and Proportion: Building a Tool to Deepen Understanding.”  In Lauren’s lesson, students learn to appreciate ratios by making their own calipers and applying them to objects, photos, and geometric figures.  Lauren was awarded a $5,000 cash prize.

(Top from left to right) Douglas O’Roark (winner) and Lauren Siegel (runner-up)
(Bottom from left to right) Saul Rosenthal (Sponsor and MoMath Trustee) and Cindy Lawrence (MoMath Executive Director and CEO)

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2019 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Nat Banting, winner of the 2019 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching, for his lesson “Dice Auction: Putting Outcomes of the Dice Up for Sale.”  In Nat’s lesson, students test their intuitive probabilistic reasoning of dice throws with a dynamic “outcomes auction.”  Reality — and mathematics — then provide feedback!  Nat is a high school mathematics teacher and a university faculty member in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  He was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Additional congratulations to the 2019 runner-up, Matt Roscoe, a mathematics professor at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, for his lesson “Building the City of Numbers: An Exploration of Unique Prime Factorization.”  In Matt’s lesson, the prime factorizations of the counting numbers from 2 to 100 come to stunning, three-dimensional life.  Matt was awarded a $15,000 cash prize.

Winners and judges for the 2019 Rosenthal Prize
(From left to right) Alex Kontorovich, Peter Winkler, Nat Banting, Saul Rosenthal, Matt Roscoe, Cindy Lawrence, and Paul Zeitz

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2018 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Elizabeth Masslich, winner of the 2018 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching for her lesson “Geometry Project: DARTBOARD.”  In Elizabeth’s lesson, students learn geometric probability using shapes on a dartboard.  Elizabeth is a teacher in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin metro area, and was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Additional congratulations to the 2018 first runner-up, Hector Rosario of the Atlanta, Georgia metro area, for his lesson “Squareland: Into How Many Squares Can You Cut a Square?”  In Hector’s lesson, students generate and analyze patterns by cutting squares into smaller squares while making conjectures and trying to prove their claims.  Hector was awarded a $5,000 cash prize.

The Museum also wishes to congratulate the 2018 runners-up, Dwaynea (Golden) Griffin of Hinesville, GA, and Kristen Rudd of Bergen County, NJ, who each received a $1,000 cash prize.

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2017 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Matt Engle, winner of the 2017 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching for his lesson “Bringing Similarity Into Light: Experiencing Similarity and Dilations Using Shadows.”  In Matt’s lesson, students examine the shadows of shapes to explore concepts such as ratio, dilation, and proportionality in triangles.  Matt is a teacher at Monterey Bay Academy in La Selva Beach, CA, and was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Additional congratulations to the 2017 second place winner, Heather Danforth-Clayson of Helios School in Sunnyvale, CA, for her lesson “Derangements and Random Rearrangements: An Exploration of Probability.”  In Heather’s lesson, students explore rearrangements of number sets by conducting hands-on experiments in probability.

The Museum also wishes to congratulate the 2017 runners-up, Elisabeth Jaffe from Baruch College Campus High School in New York, NY, and David Poras from Weston Middle School in Weston, MA.

2017 Winners
Matt Engle (second from right) poses with (from left to right) David Poras (runner-up), Elisabeth Jaffe (runner-up), Heather Danforth-Clayson (second place winner), Saul Rosenthal (Sponsor and MoMath Trustee), and Cindy Lawrence (MoMath Executive Director and CEO).

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2016 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Traci Jackson, winner of the 2016 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching for her lesson “Creating Color Combos: Visual Modeling of Proportional Relationships!”  In Traci’s lesson, students explore proportional reasoning by mixing colored solutions, creating different color combinations to visualize ratios.  Traci is a teacher at Oak Valley Middle School in San Diego, CA, and was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Additional congratulations to the 2016 second place winner, Dena Lordi of Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, CA, for her lesson “Where Can I Find a Weightless Stick?”  In Dena’s lesson, students trace the changing balance point on a scale as weights are added in order to identify the mean value of a set of numbers.

The Museum also wishes to congratulate the 2016 runners-up Crystal Frommert, Jemal Graham, and Maria Hernandez.

Download Traci Jackson’s winning lesson plan,
“Creating Color Combos: Visual Modeling of Equivalent Ratios”

Download Dena Lordi’s second place lesson plan, “Where Can I Find A Weightless Stick”
Download Crystal Frommert’s runner-up lesson plan, “Algebra on a Number Line”
Download Maria Hernandez’s runner-up lesson plan, “Pass the Candy: A Recursion Activity”
Download Jemal Graham’s runner-up lesson plan, “Blacktop Coordinate Plane”

2016 Winners
Traci Jackson (center front) poses with (from left to right) Cindy Lawrence (MoMath Executive Director and CEO), Maria Hernandez (runner-up), Jemal Graham (runner-up), Dena Lordi (second place winner), and Saul Rosenthal (Sponsor and MoMath Trustee).

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2015 Rosenthal Prize winners

Congratulations to Jillian Young, winner of the 2015 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching!  Jillian created a lesson that helps students learn about surface area and volume using the game Minecraft.  Jillian is a teacher at Elwood Kindle Elementary School in Pitman, NJ, and was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Download Jillian Young’s winning lesson plan,
“MUTANT Creature Invasion: Minecraft Volume Investigation”

Jillian Young (center right) poses with (from left to right) Heather Herd (runner-up), Eileen Finney (runner-up), Larry McMillan (runner-up), Saul Rosenthal (Sponsor and MoMath Trustee), Cindy Lawrence (MoMath Executive Director and CEO), Ralph Pantozzi (2014 Rosenthal Prize Winner), and Glen Whitney (MoMath President and Founder).

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2014 Rosenthal Prize Winner

Congratulations to Ralph Pantozzi, the winner of the 2014 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching!  Ralph, a teacher at Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, was awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

Download Ralph Pantozzi’s winning lesson plan, “Random Walk”

See a short video from “Random Walk” here

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2013 Rosenthal Prize Winners

Congratulations to Trang Vu and Brent Ferguson, respectively the winner and runner-up of the 2013 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching!  Trang, a teacher at La Jolla High School in La Jolla, CA, was awarded a $25,000 cash prize, and Brent, a teacher at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, NJ, was awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

Download Trang Vu’s winning lesson plan, “Mathematics and Fashion Design”

Download Brent Ferguson’s runner-up lesson plan, “Engineering a Number Line by Construction”

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2012 Rosenthal Prize Winners

Congratulations to Scott Goldthorp and Patrick Honner, respectively the winner and runner-up of the 2012 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching!  Scott, a teacher at Rosa International Middle School in Cherry Hill, NJ, was awarded a $25,000 cash prize, and Patrick, a teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, NY, was awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

Download Scott Goldthorp’s winning lesson plan, “Hands-On Data Analysis”

Download Patrick Honner’s runner-up lesson plan, “Sphere Dressing”

Patrick Honner (runner-up), Saul Rosenthal (Trustee and Sponsor), and Scott Goldthorp (winner) pose for a photo at the announcement of the winner of the first annual Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.

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About the Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching

The annual Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching is designed to recognize and promote hands-on math teaching in the upper elementary and middle school classrooms.  Each year, the winning teacher is awarded a cash prize of $25,000, and the winning activity is shared with interested teachers around the world.

The Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching has four goals:

  • To recognize and reward exceptional 4th through 12th grade teachers around the world who employ innovation(s) appropriate to the upper elementary or middle school classroom.
  • To demonstrate to the education profession and the general public that innovative math teaching exists and can successfully reach the middle grades.
  • To replicate the successful innovative activity of the winning teacher, distribute it to classrooms across the country, and positively impact math education in the United States and beyond.
  • To encourage innovation and incorporation of hands-on methods in classrooms around the world.