by Lisa Schencker
The Salt Lake Tribune

If more than 10,000 math teachers arrive in Salt Lake City today, what's the probability your child's math teacher will be among them?

You might not know, but someone at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference could likely calculate the answer. More than 10,000 math teachers from across the country are expected to attend the annual conference, which begins today at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Hilton Salt Lake City Center and Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown.

The theme of this year's conference, which is held in a different city each year, is "Becoming Certain about Uncertainty." Math teachers will spend four days attending 740 presentations on everything from teaching probability, to motivating students, to technology.

"This is mecca for math teachers all over the country, and we feel like we have a very active mathematics community so it was a perfect fit for us," said Barbara Kuehl, an administrator at the Salt Lake City School District and local arrangement co-chair for the conference.

Several dozen Utah educators will be among those sharing their expertise with teachers from across the nation.

"I think local people would be surprised at how cutting-edge Utah teachers are," Kuehl said.

Many sessions will highlight creative ways to make math meaningful in the classroom. Teachers will attend presentations such as "Lemonade and Pistachios," "Who Says Calculus is Boring?!" and "Islamic Art Through the Eyes of M.C. Escher."

Educators also will discuss topics of national concern, such as a recent report from the National Mathematics Advisory Panel that warns the nation could lose its international edge in the future if education doesn't improve. They'll discuss math teacher shortages and ways to bridge the achievement gap between groups of students.

"The overall goal every year is to help... math teachers learn new ways to be able to instruct all of their students," council spokeswoman Gay Dillin said. "Math is so central to what everyone deals with every day."