Session Style: Kinesthetic Element

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Balance Beans


If you start with some beans on a seesaw and you’re given certain additional beans to place on the seesaw, can you do it so the seesaw balances?

In this activity, students start by trying to solve various challenges involving different arrangements of beans on the seesaw and then design their own challenges. Next, they try to predict which arrangements will make the seesaw balance and which ones won’t (and why!).

Systems of Linear Equations


Developed as part of the Math Circles of Inquiry project, this short module explores a graphical solution to a system of equations. Students answer questions about lemonade sales and physically stand on the coordinates of a giant grid in order to see that plotting two equations on the same set of axes can give useful information. They will also gain experience in linear equation formats other than slope-intercept form and explore what the intersection points of the lines in a system of equations means.

Locked Out: A Breakout Box Session for Your Circle


Escape Rooms and “Bomb Disposal” activities are growing in popularity as a form of team building and entertainment. This session blends the two ideas to create a cooperative math activity where the challenge is to solve math problems whose solutions generate combinations to open a locked box. The math problems can be selected to fit any audience, and the activity appeals to problem solvers of all ages.

Puzzles, Bands, and Knots


This activity packed session starts with a fun Pythagorean Puzzle Proof. Then, Knot Theory is explored while experimenting with the Mobius Band, Knots and Links; Untangling Ropes and Rings, and acting out the Human Knot Experiment. These explorations are further connected to the coiling and knotting of DNA molecules.

These activities are suitable for the classroom or student circles.

The Futurama Theorem


In the television show Futurama, Professor Farnsworth and Amy decide to try out their newly finished “Mind-Switcher” invention on themselves. When they try to switch back, they discover a key flaw in the machine’s design: it will not allow the same pair of bodies to be used in the machine more than once. Is there a way to restore their minds back to their original bodies?

The Futurama theorem is a real-life mathematical theorem invented by Futurama writer Ken Keeler (who holds a PhD in applied mathematics), purely for use in the Season 6 episode “The Prisoner of Benda”.

Art Meets Math: Escher’s Tilings


Dutch artist M. C. Escher is well known for his amazing prints of interlocking lizards, fish transforming into birds, and angels and devils intertwined, just to name a few. His intricate tilings offer a beautiful and engaging way to explore ideas related to geometric transformations and symmetries.

Bicycle Math


You are brought to a crime scene. You are told that a thief just made off with a bag full of diamonds, escaping on a bicycle. You come across a pair of bicycle tracks in the snow, no doubt made by the fleeing thief. But which way did the thief go? Just by looking at the shapes of the tracks, can you determine which way the thieving cyclist went: left to right or right to left?