Academics Month: Barton to host famous "Mathemagician" Dr. Arthur Benjamin

Dr. Arthur Benjamin
Image Courtesy of Dr. Arthur Benjamin

November 18, 2019
Story by Joe Vinduska
Courtesy Photo submitted

The mind-blowing “Mathemagician” Dr. Arthur Benjamin will put on a free show at 9 a.m. on Nov. 25 in the Fine Arts Auditorium at Barton Community College.

Benjamin has appeared on many television and radio programs including The Today Show, CNN, The Colbert Report, and National Public Radio. He has been profiled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, People Magazine and more.

Benjamin’s presentation is the kickoff to the 16th Annual Jack Kilby Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Day (JKSD). Area high school students get to choose from several fascinating hands-on mini-sessions, demonstrations, competitions and experiments in various areas of science and technology throughout the morning. The day will close with an Academic Carnival and a free lunch.

Barton Biology Instructor Charlotte Cates is on the planning committee for the event and teaching STEM proficiency to today’s students is something she is very passionate about.

“In 2015, the US placed 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science,” she said. “In 2018, there were an estimated 2.4 million unfilled STEM-related jobs in the United States. The STEM shortage has been described as a crisis that threatens our national security, economic competitiveness and scientific leadership. Ironically, STEM jobs are good jobs that are out-earning non-STEM fields by 12-30 percent across all education levels.”

Cates hopes that JKSD will help show students a whole different side of STEM subjects than they are used to in the classroom. 

“JKSD provides students an opportunity to interact with STEM professionals they may otherwise never have a chance to meet while engaging in an activity related to the presenter’s field,” she said. “This gives students a unique and sometimes surprising perspective they do not get from textbooks.”

Cates said this year’s event is focused around mathematics, which is why Benjamin was chosen to be the speaker.

“Dr. Benjamin is very dynamic, and his presentation will not be what students are expecting from a math speaker,” she said. “I suspect a few students will discover that math really can be fun.”

Benjamin is a college math professor at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. He tries to instill confidence in people who watch his show.

“My goal is to convince people that math can be fun,” he said. “The point of my presentation is not to show the audience how smart I am, but how smart they can be.”

Benjamin agreed with Cates that STEM-related careers can be a very profitable route for students.

“Math is a beautiful subject and trains your mind to think logically and creatively,” he said. “Also, it is the gateway subject to many high paying career fields including computer science, law, medicine and business.”

JKSD is sponsored by Farmers Bank and Trust and Superior Essex. The Midwest Energy Community Foundation also provided a grant for the event.

For more information, please contact Biology and Environmental Science Instructor Charlotte Cates at (620) 792-9331 or

This story is part of a series celebrating Academics Month through November, which highlights Barton’s various academic programs through events, stories, social media posts and more. Visit for more information.

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