Begin with a row of cups and end with all of the cups in a single stack.
1. Count the number of cups in a stack. That stack must jump that number of
spaces. For example, 1 cup can only move 1 space; 2 cups have to move 2
spaces; 3 cups have to move 3 spaces…
2. A cup or stack of cups cannot move into an empty space. They have to land
on another cup or stack of cups.
From recognizing a pattern to generating terms, to abstracting and making inferences, tasks based on patterns embody the “low-threshold, high-ceiling” trait of good problems. Liar’s Bingo is all about patterns. This session involves recognizing patterns and searching for underlying structure, number theory, numeration, and potentially binary arithmetic. Sometimes, as in the game of Liar’s Bingo, order seems to arise magically from something we first assume to be random or chaotic. In this case, we use the game of Liar’s Bingo to engage participants’ desire to find patterns, and supercharge that desire by demonstrating a magic trick that captivates attention by...
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.
There are many card tricks based on simple mathematics as opposed to sleight of hand. In this session, participants will play with a number of such tricks, test them out and work on discovering the math underneath, with a goal to formalize the mathematics that makes the trick work.
While exploring the relationship between fractions and decimals, participants will have the opportunity to practice operations with fractions, notice and explain patterns, review understandings of place value and number sense, and justify their reasoning.
You can get a taste of math research by repeating these two steps: Think about an interesting unsolved problem, and Do Something to try solving it. Now Think about what you notice, and Do Something to explore your results. Repeat.
Quilts are a familiar set of cultural artifacts for many people. Quilts also happen to be beautifully mathematical. “What sorts of symmetries can a quilt block possess?” Participants will design and examine quilt blocks, and develop a taxonomy of symmetry in order to compare the blocks according to the symmetries, both present and absent.
Can you find all possible semiregular tilings of the plane? A tiling of the plane covers the (infinite) plane, without gaps or overlaps, using congruent copies of one or more shapes. A semiregular tiling is a tiling of the plane with certain constraints: two or more regular polygons are used, polygons meet edge-to-edge, and the pattern of polygons around every vertex is the same. Questions about polygonal tilings of the plane can utilize a classical area of mathematics to highlight and connect middle and high school mathematics content standards, mathematical practices, and the nuanced nature of mathematical justification. This session...
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”.
A Mad Veterinarian has created three animal transmogrifying machines…
While grappling with the posed questions, players will explore a set of problems, figuring out how and if the machines can complete a given transformation. Connections can be made to invariants, abstract algebra, graph theory, and Leavitt path algebra.