Math Salon + New Games + Video Interview + Solution to Devious Problem = A Full Day

September 30, 2010

Every day, it seems, I have three or four things I need to blog about, and I just can’t seem to keep up.
Well, here goes.

I hosted my first ever math salon tonight! I was very happy with it. Turnout was high, but not overwhelming. There was a wide variety of ages, and the parents and kids played with all sorts of different games and puzzles together. On my return home, I received an email from a parent saying the following:

“Just got back from the math salon and wanted to let you know that my little builder and budding chess player who frequently says “I don’t like math” is telling me he just had the “funnest” evening he can remember having for a long time.”

Can’t do much better than that.

Second, a new student of mine developed not one, but two dice games this morning when I met with him: Dice Poker, and Dice War. I’ll describe them both when I get a chance, but they play pretty well. In fact, I looked up dice poker online to see if it had been done before; it had, and ours is better. I also came up with a dice game I call Damult Dice, which I’m quite happy with. It’s fun, it’s perfect for times table practice, and it points towards a kind of algebraic understanding of multiplication.

Third, I did an interview a little while back with Steve Miranda of PSCS. It’s available here. I should probably work on making my point a little more cleanly (and also my hand gestures), but I’m pleased with it.

Fourth, I flipped through a Martin Gardner book today, and out of the blue, there’s a problem I’d been thinking about absentmindedly for weeks! Turns out it was proven by a 10th century Persian astronomer and mathematician by the name of Abu l-Wafa. I’ll talk about it in more detail later, too. Boy, nothing like seeing a solution when your appetite is whetted like that. I got so excited, but I was kind of annoyed I hadn’t figured it out, too. It’s sinisterly clever, though. I’ll come back to this later too!

I am, sadly, way behind in discussing my students, and their phenomenal innovations. Yesterday a brilliant nine year old I work with showed me that he noticed a connection between tetrahedrons of any dimension and Pascal’s Triangle. How can I not have shared that with the world already?

Well, it has been a full day. I’ll try to come back to all the events and discoveries and share them here. But now it’s late, and I’ve got another full day coming up tomorrow.

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