Math is not boring at new math museum
This is how math is presented at New York City's brand-new Museum of Mathematics, the only museum of its kind in the United States and a place where math is anything but boring. The museum, nicknamed MoMath, opened Dec. 15.
"Math's not just memorizing your multiplication tables," said Cindy Lawrence, the museum's associate director. "Math is a creative endeavor, and that's what we want people to realize."
The museum's target audience is fourth through eighth grades but the exhibits can be enjoyed by younger children on one level while challenging adults on another.
The point of the Coaster Roller is that the acorn-like shapes have a constant diameter although they are not spheres, so the clear plastic sled glides smoothly over them.
The square-wheeled trike works because the wheels align with the exhibit's bumpy track. The bumps are not just any bumps; each one is an upside-down catenary, the shape formed by a chain when you hold both ends.
Other exhibits allow museum-goers to create objects that will be put on display, either by building them with a Tinker Toy-like system called Zome Tools or by computer modeling.
The Tessellation Station is a wall that visitors can cover with like-shaped magnets.
Tessellation is the process of creating a plane using repeated geometric shapes, such as a floor tiled with squares or hexagons. MoMath visitors can build tessellations with pieces shaped like rabbits, monkeys and dinosaurs. There also is a Marjorie Rice pentagon, named for an amateur mathematician whose tessellation discoveries were later confirmed by professionals. The museum is highlighting Rice's work in part to spark girls' love of math.
Critical thinking challenge: How did the designers of this museum make math interesting and fun?
Define these words: diameter, hexagon, tessellation
- Posted on December 26, 2012
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