Friday, July 4, 2014

Playing With Math: Almost to the Finish Line!

Campaign Update
I would love to be able to see what's causing our good days. I have no idea what made July 1st our best day for number of contributors since the beginning of the campaign, with 23 contributors, including ... a $1000 contribution from Nancy Blachman, founder of the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival. Thank you, Nancy! We are now at 93% of our goal, with $6960 coming in from 212 contributors. Our thanks go out to each one of the 212. Every contribution makes a difference.

Yesterday was our lowest number of contributors yet, just 3. And today may be low, too, with everyone out having fun on the 4th. So if you know someone who you think would like Playing With Math, please let them know about it.

The Book Reviews
Recently, Sam Shah and Beverly Baird have posted lovely reviews. And I began to be aware of something very cool. Each reviewer notices different things about the book, and uses different chapters when they mention their favorite parts of it.

Every chapter is special to me in one way or another, or it wouldn't have made it into the book.  But of course other people don't always love the same things I do. So it's great to hear the love coming in about so many different chapters.

I started the process of compiling the stories in this book as a story-lover and a math-lover, with very little interest in illustrations. I knew the book needed them to break up the text, but I didn't have much sense about what that would involve, what sorts of illustrations would be helpful, or even how to manage them on my computer. (I was saving lots of low-resolution images until half a year ago, which caused lots of trouble that I've finally taken care of.) I have come to love the illustrations we've pulled together.

Sam quotes Rodi Steinig's chapter, On Noticing and Fairness:
We began today’s math circle, the first of six sessions, sitting in an “ogre.” Not a circle, not an oval, but an ogre, the kids’ way of precisely describing the shape we made.
The kids were voting on the animals to be included in Zooman's private zoo, and an ogre sounds right at home in that discussion. Their first vote led to the tamandua (ant-eater) winning. Here's our tamandua...

Beverly mentions Julia Brodsky's interest in encouraging the children “to make mistakes and enjoy it.” As it turns out, that theme is repeated throughout the book. Here's an illustration that warms my heart, from Mary O'Keeffe's chapter, Agents of Math Circles.

I don't think anyone will buy the book for the illustrations, but if you find yourself reading it over and over, as I have, the illustrations will be one of the special graces of this heart-warming collection.

A Puzzle
There hasn't been enough math on this blog of late. So here's a puzzle-problem from James Tanton:
Give an example of a cubic polynomial and a quadratic whose three points of intersection form an equilateral triangle.

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