A celebration of #makingmath

Every #mathart family night I run has its own vibe. Last night it was an out-and-out celebration of multi-generational inquiry, experimentation, persistence, creativity, and, most of all, INTERESTING IDEAS expressed via the humble materials of paper, straws, glue, and tape.

First of all…FOCUS. About half-way through the night I started overhearing comments from the teachers present along the lines of “I can’t believe how FOCUSED Kid X is. I’ve never seen him stay in one place for so long.” (I have theories and opinions about why, but I will leave those for a different day.)

Second of all…TAKE THE MATERIALS and the basic premise AND RUN WITH IT!

Third…GO ON WITH YOUR PROBLEM SOLVING SELF! 

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A girl at the beading attributes station had created a lovely two-bead pattern unit. I challenged her to make a 3- or 4-bead pattern unit where each bead was somehow similar to and different from each of the other beads. The result is stunning…and mathematical.

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Have you ever made a tetrahedron? Have you ever made one by folding a paper circle? No? I was so pleased by the tenacity exhibited by both adults and kids who gave this altogether novel experience a try.

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And, finally, possibly my most favorite part of the evening was being intermittently summoned by two fourth grade boys to observe their progress as they FULL ON embraced the challenge to “make as many different rectangles as possible” out of Pentominoes.

The first time I was summoned they told me they had found four, as evidenced by the tally marks in the image below, but couldn’t remember how all of them were made. After they recreated one, we chatted about they might notate or record each answer. They landed on using the letter names that go with each pentomino, and also wrote down the dimensions of each rectangle. In the end they had found SIX, and would have kept going had the event not ended. I see some patterns emerging, don’t you?

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I believe that some adults only saw multiplication in this activity. I see problem solving, mathematical thinking and practices, collaboration, and utter joy.

So, GO ON WITH YOUR MATH ART MAKING SELF. You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain…everything that is beautiful and exciting about mathematics.

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