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World Science Festival 2017

I am excited to be a part of the 2017 World Science Festival!

The World Science Festival is a week-long celebration of science and the arts in New York City.  Now in its tenth year, the WSF has drawn over a million and a half visitors to its science-themed activities, which are designed for the public and hosted all over the city.

I will be participating in the WSF’s Ultimate Science Sunday, a day full of interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and games.  I’ll be constructing a large aperiodic tiling with visitors, as well as sharing some cool 3D-printed mathematics.

The 2017 World Science Festival runs from May 30th to June 4th. You can see the entire Ultimate Science Sunday program here, and find out more about the World Science Festival here.

Jason Merrill’s Lawnmower Puzzle

Jason Merrill recently posted a fun geometry puzzle inspired by his work on the Lawnmower Math activity for Desmos.  Here’s my paraphrase of the puzzle:

Suppose a lawnmower is tethered to a circular peg in the middle of the lawn. As the lawnmower moves along its spiral path, the rope shortens as its winds around the peg. At the moment the lawnmower contacts the peg, how much rope remains uncoiled?

When I first considered this problem it seemed hard.  After some thought, it seemed obvious.  Then, after some more thought, it seemed hard again.  That’s the sign of a compelling problem!

I enjoyed working out a solution, the heart of which I’ve included below.  Jason graciously included my solution in his post sharing his own, and he also does a wonderful job describing the journey of making simplifying assumptions, both mathematical and physical, that allow us to start moving toward a solution.  It’s the kind of work that often goes unmentioned in problem solving, especially in school mathematics, and this puzzle provides a nice opportunity to make that thinking transparent.

I highly recommend reading the puzzle and his solution at his blog.  Thanks for the fun problem, Jason!

 

Math Photo: Snowball Tetrahedron

I put the recent snow day, and a snowball maker, to good use!

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Making Math with Scratch — Scratch Ed

Scratch Ed, an organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that supports teaching and learning with Scratch, recently profiled some of my work teaching mathematics using Scratch.

The article, Making Math with Scratch, highlights a Math for America workshop I ran for teachers that centered on approaching mathematical concepts through the lens of coding and computer science.  Several projects I use in my classroom are featured, and I also discuss why I like teaching with Scratch and how it’s become a valuable part of my approach to teaching math.

The purpose of the workshop and Patrick’s classroom activities are to demonstrate the power of bringing mathematics and computer science together. “Ultimately the goal is to show how math and computer science are great partners in problem solving. And Scratch provides a terrific platform for that.” 

I’m excited to share the work I’ve been doing with math and Scratch over the past few years–including talks and workshops at conferences like Scratch@MIT, SIAM ED, and the upcoming NCTM Annual meeting–and I really appreciate this nice profile from Scratch Ed.

You can read the full article, Making Math with Scratchat the Scratch Ed website.

Math Photo: Sky Squares

What catches my attention in this photo, after the blue and white squares, is how the beams slowly bend away from center.  I suppose knowing the size of those beams, and some trigonometry, would allow you estimate the location of the camera.