Monthly Archives: March 2013

2013 Cambridge (MA) Science Festival April 12 – April 21

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If you’re anywhere near the Boston area in the second half of April don’t miss the 7th annual Cambridge Science Festival featuring lectures from some of the world’s top researchers, hands on activities, theatrical performances, a robot zoo, and much more. One of the outstanding features of the Cambridge Science Festival, unlike other science events, is that everyone from elementary school kids to adults with science backgrounds will find something interesting to see or do there. If you haven’t been to Cambridge Science Festival before you can see videos of some past activities on their Youtube channel.

The Story of Martin Gardner and Mathematics as Magic

Martin Gardner, one of the greatest recreational mathematicians of all time, is responsible not only for helping popularize mathematics as an art form and as a form of recreation but for inspiring a generation of future mathematicians to pursue it as a profession. He wrote the Mathematical Games column for Scientific American for a quarter of a century, and his mathematical and scientific gems have found their way into dozens of foreign publications as well as numerous research papers. The Nature of Things documentary gives the viewer an up close look at Martin Gardner’s work and the work of other people with whom he collaborated. If you’re looking for some mathematical entertainment with serious mathematical substance, or simply want a glimpse into the playful nature of mathematics and mathematicians, this is a highly recommended film.

A Mathematician’s Lament

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There is such breathtaking depth and heartbreaking beauty in this ancient art form. How ironic that people dismiss mathematics as the antithesis of creativity. They are missing out on an art form older than any book, more profound than any poem, and more abstract than any abstract

Much ink has been spilled on the subject of why K-12 mathematics education needs improving, but rarely has anyone made the point in such an eloquent manner as to make it mandatory reading for teachers, parents, and students of mathematics education. This is exactly what former research mathematician and current math teacher Paul Lockhart has done in his impassioned essay “A Mathematician’s Lament” [PDF].

This is not another dry statistics-filled analysis comparing competing education reforms, but a powerful cry for teaching thinking over mindless procedure following. As an added bonus, Lockhart includes two beautiful geometry problems that capture the essence of mathematical reasoning and that you can start playing with right away. Yes, playing — we need more of that in our math classes.

(Photo by Mikey Angels)