Use the Natural Environment

  • ❅ Math is intrinsic to our world
  • ❅ That’s shown best by “finding” the math in nature
  • ❅ Great potential for the “Aha!” effect
  • ❅ Shows math as relevant and connected

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The Value of Props

  • ✪ Three-dimensional, tactile props for your talk spark engagement and curiosity.
  • ✪ Nothing creates a “magic moment” like pulling out the unusual or offbeat, yet highly appropriate, prop from your bag.
  • ✪ Props can be something you use, or that the participants use, or be for “show and tell.”
  • ✪ Don’t be afraid to use items you encounter, perhaps in surprising ways. A “found prop” is magical, too.

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Know Your Territory

Method A: walk a mile in their shoes

  • ✦ The tour can start anywhere and end anywhere
  • ✦ Practice being an observant walker
  • ✦ Look up, look down, look left and right
  • ✦ Invest the time needed
  • ✦ Take careful notes

Method B: go with what you know

  • ✦ Where do you spend a lot of time? Where are you intimately familiar with?
  • ✦ Accumulate items of interest
  • ✦ Keep a “math diary”
  • ✦ Great for a last-minute/spur of the moment demo

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Finding the Hidden Math

This blog of the National Museum of Mathematics not only records highlights of many of the math tours given by the Museum over the years, but but includes ideas and processes used to create those tours, as a resource so that you can create tours, too. So the first idea to get across is that you indeed can create tours that will help other people perceive the mathematics that infuses the world around and that is nearly ubiquitous. All it takes is a genuine love of mathematics, and opening your own eyes to see the mathematical connections and ramifications that surround us every day.

The first several posts go through a number of the key elements and aspects that underlie essentially any tour. You can create a tour in almost any setting, indoors our outdoors, suitable for rain or shine, and with topics suitable for any target age range/mathematical background. Once you dive into this, you will find that the question becomes not “oh my gosh, how will I find anything to say?” but rather “Wow, how can I ever pare this down to a one-hour tour?” A few key principles lay the groundwork for a successful tour, and we will highlight those first, in the next several postings. With some care and a bit of practice, you will be able to keep tour participants rapt with the wonders of mathematics.

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MoMath Gala 2014: The Chaos Ball


December 15, 2013

MoMath has turned one! Photos can be found at one.momath.org.