Euphemia Lofton Haynes: The Pioneering Math Queen
Euphemia Lofton Haynes was a trailblazer in the field of mathematics education. In 1943 at the age of 53, Haynes earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., thus becoming the first African-American woman to earn a Ph. D. in Mathematics. She made significant contributions to the field of mathematics education and was a pioneer for women and minorities in the field.
Haynes began her career as a teacher and quickly realized that there were few resources available to help her teach mathematics to her students. Consequently, she decided to pursue advanced education in mathematics in order to develop her own teaching materials. Haynes' research and teaching materials were not only influential in the field of mathematics education but also in the field of mathematical logic.
She taught in the public schools of her hometown of Washington, D.C., for 47 years. She retired from teaching in 1959 but went on to champion education by establishing the mathematics department at University of the District of Columbia and joining Washington DC’s Board of Education, becoming its first female president and chairperson in 1966. Throughout her career, Haynes was an advocate of combating racial segregation in D.C. schools.
Throughout her career, Haynes faced significant discrimination and obstacles due to her race and gender. However, she never let it discourage her and continued to make important contributions to the field of mathematics education and her commitment to making the field more inclusive and accessible to all. She remains an inspiration to many young women and minorities who are interested in pursuing careers in mathematics.
Haynes died on July 25, 1980, at the age of 90 in her hometown of Washington, DC,. She left her family papers to the Catholic University Archives, as well as a $700,000 bequest to create and support the Euphemia Lofton Haynes Professorship in the Department of Education.
Geometry Symmetry Walk
- a camera or a phone with a camera
- Pirate Spyglass (optional)
- Pirate Scientist Observation Journal (optional)
What can you spy with your mathematical eye? Grab your Arrrgh Mighty Spyglass along with your Arrrgh Mighty Observation Journal and let's head out on an adventure!
Explain to the children that Euphemia Lofton Haynes was a mathematician who made important contributions to the field of geometry and symmetry and that symmetry is the property of an object to be able to be divided into two identical mirror halves.
- Grab your Arrrgh Mighty Spyglass (optional)
- Have the children take a walk outside and as they walk, have them scan the landscape for shapes or patterns in their environment that exhibit symmetry (such as leaves, flowers, animals, bodies of water).
- Have the children use a camera or camera phone to take pictures of the shapes or patterns they find and share them with you, each other and the entire class.
- Have the children draw pictures of what they see in their Arrrgh Mighty Observation Journals. You may use regular paper if you do not have a journal.
- Have the children discuss the symmetry they found in their pictures and compare their pictures with each other.
This activity is a fun and engaging way for children to discover symmetry in nature and to understand the importance of symmetry in mathematics and in the work of Euphemia Lofton Haynes.