October through December is one of the busiest of segments of my year. This year, I began the month of October at a Global Math Project Symposium which took place in New York City. I will end this period of travel at the California STEAM Symposium in San Francisco on December 11. In between those, trips to Sacramento, Palm Springs, Monterey, and Berkeley are all also on the calendar. (My wife is wondering when we’ll ever get that lawn re-seeding project done.) As the Coordinator of Outreach and the Program Director for Math & STEM Education at FPU, I am attending conferences and speaking engagements. Here is some news about the first one.
You may recall that AIMS is a partner in the Global Math Project, which had its first global event week during the week of October 10, 2017. The goals of the Project were simple but audacious: create a series of mathematical experiences for children to engage in, and that demonstrated that the doing of mathematics could be a joyful and uplifting experience. To that end, Exploding Dots was developed by Dr. James Tanton of the MAA, based upon some work he encountered while talking with Dr. James Propp of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. If you have not seen them, watch these videos at https://www.explodingdots.org/ first to get some of the enthusiasm they engender, and find a path into the wonderful world of “islands” that have been created by Scolab (a mathematical software development company from Canada).
The Symposium took place at the Courant Institute of Mathematics at the New York University (NYU) and was sponsored by the National Museum of Mathematics. Over a dozen speakers (including nine of us Ignite speakers) gave a variety of talks on how mathematics can be a joyful and exciting topic to engage in. I gave a five-minute Ignite talk which can be seen here: It was intended to focus on the effects of questioning paradigms and make a call to those in attendance to bravely continue doing so.
One other aspect of AIMS’ efforts to spread the word of GMP was my attending a local middle school to demonstrate Exploding Dots. I couched my lesson in an old puzzle that was part of the early AIMS Poster Series problems. The student response to this method was infectious and exciting to see. Seventh graders are so full of energy and I was worn out by the end of five straight periods of teaching. My hat goes off to teachers who do this day in and day out.