Jan Cohen, Founder of UrbanMathTrails
Drawing upon my extensive background in math education, finance and architecture, and a passion for art and the outdoors, I founded UrbanMathTrails to inspire children to discover math in the environment around them. Building on children's natural curiosity, diverse interests and sense of fun, I envisioned innovative programs in museums, parks, gardens and neighborhoods as a means to excite their mathematical imagination and electrify their mathematical senses.
From my work on Wall Street, to teaching in the classroom, my creative programming has been the foundation of my clients' and students' success. By offering novel approaches and new ways of understanding, I have stimulated unexpected discoveries and results in both finance and math education.
As Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Research at the New York Mercantile Exchange, I pioneered energy futures and options for the international marketplace, empowering the worldwide energy industry with new tools to trade, market and manage risk. Having made a difference in industry and finance, I wanted to make a difference in peoples' lives. I became a teacher of mathematics.
Through the NYC Teaching Fellows program, I became a middle school math teacher while earning a masters degree in Middle School Math Education. Building on my prior degrees in Architecture and Finance, and my professional experiences of the prior decade, I assembled an extensive toolbox of talents, ideas and passions to share with my students.
Beyond my formal education and career path, my love of the arts and nature exposed me to the world’s most diverse natural landscapes and cultural meccas. Cycling, hiking and touring around the globe fueled my ideas for math trails as a means to discover the hidden treasures of the world.
My drive and creativity have enabled me tap into student interests, foster collaboration, diversity and the exchange of ideas through mathematical connections. By creating opportunities for children to explore a painting, a building, a plant, a pavement, a bridge, a forest or a mobile through a mathematical lens, I have changed the learning experience, making it thrilling, relevant and fostering a true sense of competence and empowerment among students.
Among the programs I have created are math trails at MOMA, Guggenheim Museum, Folk Art Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Riverside Park, Central Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the National Mall, Storm King and Museum at Eldridge Street, among other venues. I have even created a virtual math trail, using the New York City Bike Map. These trails have enabled me to share my love of math, nature and the arts with hundreds to thousands of students.
I look forward to bringing these programs to your institution.