Cheryl’s Birthday Party, Meta-logic, and the known unknown

I almost missed the Cheryl’s Birthday Party internet phenomenon this week. An awkwardly written logic problem went viral, and the internet was abuzz with attempts to solve it. Check out the NYTimes treatment of the origial pnroblem, and the afterparty. The problem is an example of a metalogic puzzle. Logic puzzles usually consist of organizing what you know and don’t …

Play is where love begins

I recently wrote a piece for the New York Times Numberplay blog on what we do to help people fall in love with math. I thought I’d include it here. __________________________ No matter whom we work with, our initial goal is for them to have an authentic, mathematical experience; that is the first step to helping anyone — teachers, students, …

Spring Classes, Summer Classes, and Julia Robinson Festival

Recently, in an art gallery in Ballard, I saw the amazing painting above. (Check out the artist’s website here.) I love this kind of mathematical art–the tessellation in the background a kind of blanket that subsumes the floor and clothes of the people in the picture. It’s a meeting of mathematical structure and organic complexity. We’re going to be exploring all kinds of beautiful …

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Three Square Problem and Variations

I just saw an absolutely charming problem on Numberphile that I was shocked never to have seen before. They call it the Three Square Problem (featuring Professor Zvezdelina Stankova).  Three Square Problem Prove that It feels, as Prof. S says in the video, like a beautiful conjecture. I highly recommend trying to come up with a proof. There are many (54!), and …

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what’s awesome about algebra

As students are enrolling in pre-algebra and algebra in droves, I thought I would post this video, which is part 1 of a magic trick illustrating the mind-boggling power of algebra. It is very common to learn how to do algebra without learning why to do it. To me, this magic trick gives a sense of how useful and powerful …

Fall Registration Open

If you are in Seattle or Bellevue, we have a host of great classes and circles to offer this fall, all focusing on the beauty, power, and elegance of mathematics. Saturday Classes at the PNA in Phinney Ridge This Saturday session runs for six sessions, from October 18 – November 22. This session’s topic: Games, Logic and Arithmetic. Kindergarten & 1st grade Section …

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From 21 to 500: Game & Math Salon

Here’s a fun, very simple classroom game you can play for multiplication. You may know the game 21, aka blackjack. In classrooms, I like to play with a deck that only includes numbers from 1 to 10. Twenty-one. Each player gets two cards (face up). They can “hit” to take another card, or “stay” to stick with what they have. Whoever …

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Revisiting Internal Motivation

There is a tension between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in teaching mathematics. Our answer to the classic student questions Why do I need to learn this? is a good measure of where we look for motivation. You can appeal to the extrinsic, or instrumental, rewards: you need math to succeed in get a good grade, to succeed in middle school, …

Playing with Math and more

Early summer is a great time of year in Seattle and Eastern WA, where we’re splitting our time right now. We’ve been pouring energy into a few projects: launching our new game, Prime Climb; supporting Seattle Summer School with curriculum and professional development support; piloting a Math for Love summer camp, which just wrapped up after an excellent week; and …

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Primo – the beautiful, colorful, mathematical board game

Primo A Totally Unique Mathematical Board Game from Math for Love More than a year ago we had an idea to build a game around what felt like one of the unsung ideas in math: prime numbers make multiplication easy. (Why does no one learn this in school?) We realized that with the right color-coding, it would be possible to …