Week 48: Bubbles!

Pipe cleaners have so many uses and one of the best ways to use them is to make bubbles. This week I encourage learners to build mathematical structures with pipe cleaners, straws, string, or other waterproof toys to create beautiful structures. I used Zometools in some of my classes as well, and they were a big hit. If this is being done inside, then a fan can be a great tool with a small tub of soap. I did this in my Village Home classes from a few years ago and it was great for 5yrs to 16yrs to adults. Diluted dish-soap worked well for us, but some folks have special formulas for bubble solutions to make them last longer.

Try to create cubes, pyramids, octahedrons, dodecahedrons, cylinders, and two dimensional portals for bubbles. What is so cool about bubbles is that they can fill in the sides/faces for the skeletons that are created, and yet curved bubbles emerge when they exit the structure. Things to discuss would be volumes, vertices, faces, paths, hypercubes, ellipsoids, air currents vs bubble size, etc..

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Week 47: Math Dance

Get up and move! This week learners can dance their favorite equations, math symbols and concepts. Whatever topic is of interest or in the process of being learned is a great one to figure out the dance moves that go with it. I recommend taking 5 to 10 of your favorite moves and making it into a mathematically choreographed dance.

Here is one approach:

  • Pile 1: Make flash cards for the vocabulary, plots, or concepts that you want to move to.
  • Pile 2: Make flash cards for the body parts that you want to move with (hands, feet, legs, arms, whole body, etc.)
  • Draw a card from each pile, turn on the music, and get some moves.
  • Note: you can play with sequences, beats, or number of repeats as well. (This works in a virtual environment as well – have a dance break!)

Here is an example generator I made:

See the Pen MathDance by Sophia (@fractalkitty) on CodePen.

To run it in a separate tab (good for screen sharing) click here.

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Week 33: Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe

Games don’t have to be complicated to require some good thinking skills. We all learn tic-tac-toe when we are younger. We soon learn how to always come to a stalemate with an equal opponent. Once you get the strategy, it can get a little boring… But what if we add a layer (or two) of moves. What does this do to the strategy of the game? Is it so easy to predict your opponents next move?

This week I recommend learners create a tic-tac-toe board that has tic-tac-toe boards in each square. Here is a video of how to play:

My learners contemplated:

  • How many times can you nest the game before it’s too complex?
  • With each layer added, how much longer and more difficult would it be? (how many moves are there?)
  • How is this like a fractal?
  • Could you keep a game going with one move a day for how many days with 2-nested?, 3-nested, 4?
  • What does the game tree look like?
  • How many ways can you play tic-tac-toe vs ultimate tic-tac-toe?(think combinations). What is the combinatorics calculation look like for this?

If you are wondering how I was able to do this in the time of Covid… I use a digital white board and label squares so it is easy to say the next move. You can also use a shared google drawing or a google spreadsheet to play (here is one for you.)

Another blog (Games for Young Minds) that does a great post on this game is here. Math with Bad Drawings also has a great post here. As you can see, this is a fun game with us mathy folks everywhere.