Dionysium Show

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What we learned: The Dionysium Show is a quarterly evening entertainment variety program in the style of a club devoted to intellectual topics that takes place in a movie theater that serves food and drink. Challenge was to do meaningful math engaging both individuals and the group who are in a theater sitting in the dark, unable to write notes

Kickoff to Summer in Minnesota

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colorful spheres inside of wooden frames, forming a large triangular and a medium square pyramid. The frames are on a lush grassy surface

The Minnesota State Fair puts on an event to celebrate the beginning of summer (Kickoff to Summer) each Memorial Day weekend, and for the first time this year, MathHappens was on the scene. We brought Geometiles and an instant camera in order to build a 3D Shape Museum. We brought multi-colored spheres and frames for building pyramids and other shapes.

Family Math Expo

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Children's hands fill geometric frames with colorful pattern blocks.

We were invited to the Washington, D.C. Family Math Expo earlier this month. While we can’t travel everywhere and attend every math event (although we do admit that would be a ton of fun!), this seemed like a great opportunity to… Support some excellent work going on in a large and important school district, Play math with a large number

A Circle Toy

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Here’s a fun little toy. It’s useful for building an argument about the area of a circle. Let’s say you know that π (pi) is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Then, because the diameter is twice the radius, you know the circumference is 2π r. Usually this argument proceeds by drawing pictures. It turns

Playing Math at the NCTM Regional in Seattle

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We were invited, along with the Seattle Universal Math Museum (SUMM) to host a play space at NCTM’s Regional Conference in Seattle that took place earlier this month. The whole team organized materials, and then Matt Hertel and I met in Seattle ready to play math! Due to the nature of the space, and fire codes and whatnot, we had

Curve Stitching Parabolas

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Two wooden arms with regularly spaced holes are attached at one end with a bolt and wingnut. The arms are at approximately a 90° angle to each other. Threads are methodically stitched through the holes: the first hole on one arm to the last hole on the other, then the second-to-last hole to the second hole, etc.

Does this method of curve stitching make a parabola, or just something that looks kind of parabola-ish? Geometrically, a parabola is the set of points in the plane that are equidistant from a point (the focus) and a line (the directrix). The parabola whose focus is the point (0,1), and whose directrix is y= -1 is algebraically defined as y=¼

Curry Triangle Paradox

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Five parts for a curry triangle lie slightly separated in order to make clear the decomposition. There is a 4-by- right triangle, a 9-by-7 right triangle, a 4-by-3 rectangle, a figure made of rows of 4, 3, and 2, and another of rows 1, 2, and 3.

Here’s the rap. Me: Can we do a little math together? You: Sure! Me: Here’s a triangle, right? You: Yes. Me: OK. You hold these pieces; I’m gonna swap these, and your job is to fill in the empty space to make the same triangle a different way. … Eventually (anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes later) Us: Oh

Mecklenburg County, NC: Parks and Recreation

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What we learned: Mecklenburg County Environmental Education Manager Alice Chambers liked the materials she saw on a visit with colleagues at the Austin Nature and Science Center. She and her staff are interested in presenting mathematics concepts as part of their new STEM initiative. They would like to offer more and they are interested in collaborating with us by testing

Thinkery Adult Evening Program on Math

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What we learned: The Thinkery were expecting as many as 500 participants who would be drinking beer and circulating among offerings from various organizations. Social games were of particular interest to organizers as this was offered as a mixer for young adults. The Birthday Game via name tags encourages participants to look at each other’s tags and offers a fun

Little Free Library

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What we learned: The Little Free Library is a non profit organization that provides materials to construct a free library for homeowners. The libraries are free and passersby can take or leave books. The organization runs promotions to help engage potential librarians and were interested in a math book donation for Pi Day. MathHappens: We donated 250 copies of Thinking