We had a few slides to introduce MathHappens to the group and then dove right in to a hot topic, redistricting or Gerrymandering. We just had the proposed new Texas map released, but none of the negotiated changes that came the next day on the 14th, so there were real examples of all 4 types of Gerrymandering which are cracking, packing, hijacking and kidnapping!
The origins of Gerrymandering are with Governor and subsequently Vice-President, Eldridge Gerry (pronounced Gary). He was lampooned, but still got his way to make this salamander shaped district in Massachusetts way back in 1813
We used a model, starting with 4 districts, 2 red and 2 blue. We tried various numbers and proportions of red and blue tiles, to follow a sequence that gave us some ways to try each technique. This worked very well and was a fun activity for the college students, but it could be done with even middle school aged participants.
Complete slide show is here in pdf form.
Many thanks to Dr. Hunt and his students for the hospitality. He’s got two great classes this semester.