Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Mathematics (the OTHER MoMa) with my friend’s daughter, one of the most amazing 11-year-olds I have ever met. Not only is this fabulous child athletically and musically talented, but she loves MATH FOR MATH’S SAKE. She has sent me videos of her reciting digits of π (I think she got 50 last year), and asks me to meet her (her mother is allowed to come along as long as she has something of her own to do) at a local coffee bar for private math lessons given on neon index cards. In other words, this child is a math teacher’s delight.
On our way to MoMath, we passed an unusual gathering with this parking lot. It was actually a ‘rock concert’ in Madison Square Park at 10:30 in the morning. The mosh pit was filled with 3 and 4 year olds (http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/mad-sq-kids-music-for-aardvarks-band). I feel like there must be some interesting math problems in those strollers. There was also an art installation, “ORLY GENGER: RED, YELLOW AND BLUE” which was visually arresting, and also filled with math. According to the Madison square Park website, “This Mad. Sq. Art commission consists of 1.4 million feet of rope—the total length equating to nearly 20 times the length of Manhattan—covered in over 3,500 gallons of paint, and weighing over an astounding 100,000 pounds.” We hadn’t even gotten to the door of the museum and already we had encountered artifacts and experiences that were rich in math and art.
But at last we arrived. The museum is filled with exhibits that make math accessible, discoverable, and fun, while simultaneously opening up questions for everyone (even this high school math teacher) to ponder. There were the solids constant width (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface_of_constant_width) upon which you could glide feeling nary a bump. Or the beautiful designs etched on stainless steel plates that popped out into 3 dimensions as you rotated the lights above them by a switch on the wall. Sadly, I did not have closed-toe shoes on, so I could not take a ride on one of the tricycles with square wheels, but you can be sure I will not make that mistake again!
Other highlights included music of the spheres, the Enigma Cafe, in which you and a partner could sit at a small station and work with any number of logic games and puzzles, including Traffic Jam, which seemed a lot more accessible to me when my children were 6 and 7 years old! At the back of the room was a large magnetic board; below it were troughs filled with pattern blocks, and tessellating monkeys, rabbits and dinosaurs. I NEED one of these – no – I need two – one at home, and another at school!
This must be a recurring theme for me this summer: the tile and fixtures in the Women’s Room were mathematical as well…and I couldn’t resist the photo opp! Sadly, I did not have a guide to enter the Men’s Room; I wonder if it was similarly math-y.
My next trip is quilting on the Appalachian Mountain Trail and then on to Twitter Math Camp!! Who knows what mathematical wonders I will find – in or out of the bathrooms….