Culture points are the second component of your capstone and you can begin earning them during your first year on campus, even before you declare your major. You’ll need to earn 30 points over the course of 4 years which, if you do the math, could be an hour of your time per block. (You can do this.)

If you want to knock off ⅓ of your points quickly, we recommend taking on the sophomore exam—a challenging exam—sure, but the exam consists of material you’ll need as a foundation for courses you’ll take later on in your academic journey. Why not just do it and move on with only 20 points left to tackle?

The rules

You must earn 30 points (non-negotiable), of which, five must be from attending seminars, five must be from giving talks, and two must be from reflections based on seminars attended. A total of 12 points must be earned by completing these activities, leaving you with 18 points to go.

And remember, if you take the sophomore exam, you’re only looking at another eight points.

Choose the rest of your culture points adventure:

Take your sophomore exam. You get 10 for completing an exam on material you’ll need to know anyway. We even provide you with a topics list [PDF] to help you prepare for the challenge. Take it on!

Conduct research in mathematics or computer science. Earn five points.

Attend a talk or seminar. Earn one point for each one you attend (five points minimum and 10 points maximum). Afterwards, you can earn an additional point if you write a reflection on the talk or seminar. You must write reflections [PDF] on two talks or seminars but no more than two.

Attend a regional or national conference. You don’t even have to present anything. That will earn you four points and you can do this up to three times before you hit your max level. (No additional points are given for attending talks at the conference—that would be too easy.)

And if attending isn’t your thing as much as full-on participation, we recommend you present a talk at a regional or national conference for a whopping seven points. You could also present a poster and earn yourself a not-too-shabby five points.

We want to hear your mind at work, which is why we award points if you give a talk at any of the following: [Your talk(s) must add up to a minimum of five points to be counted.]

  • Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (MUMS)—six points
  • Capstone talk—five points
  • Cornell Symposium—five points
  • Book report on math book for general audience—one point (you can only do this twice and not twice in the same academic year)
  • Report on journal article—one point (you can only do this twice and not twice in the same academic year)
  • Teach a workshop (LaTeX)—three points (you can only do this twice)

Submit a paper to a journal. You’ll earn 10 points! Imagine if you do this and complete the sophomore exam? You’ll have 20 out of 30 points earned. If your paper is published, you earn an additional two points and bragging rights.

Turn in your solution to the Problem of the Block. Earn one point. You can do this up to 10 times.

Compete in math or stats competitions. If you earn a designation in the competition, you can earn an additional two points (and snap a winning photo of yourself to send to your BAE).

  • Iowa Math Contest—two points
  • Iowa Math Modeling Contest—two points
  • Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) or Iowa Contest in Modeling (ICM)—two points
  • Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC)—two points
  • Other approved competition—two points

Take Putnam exam and earn two points. How hard can it be? If you score points on the exam, here is what you earn: 2*sc mod 10 +sc mod 2, a max of 10 points can be earned.

Join Math Club. If you’re an officer, you’ll earn four points (and if you’re an officer twice, you can earn an additional four points, but eight is the max). Attend Math Club and earn one point (max of 10 points and five is the max per academic year). Participate in a math outreach activity and earn two points. Lots of points opportunities just by joining in and participating!

Sometimes, faculty will acknowledge you for exceptional work that is far above what was expected. These are discretionary points and no, you can’t ask for them, but it doesn’t hurt to aim for exceptional!