Monday, February 4, 2013

A little glimpse in MoMath

It was cold in NYC last Thursday, wind trying hit me almost around every corner. Must say - the wind won - came back to Ithaca with bad laryngitis. Glad I am not making movies but just writing a blog.
One of the destinies this time in New York was to go to Flatiron district. See that iconic building through Leo Villareal's Buckyball in Madison Park? Across from it on the other side of the park is National Museum of Mathematics. Mathematicians are more used to acronyms, so MoMath for me sounds much better;-).
I liked the wall with holograms. Wish there would be some explanation what these surfaces are. I believe that museum staff would explain if asked but since there were just few of them I think it would be helpful to have some simple description. Missing explanations was what I found in several places. For example, on the wall there was a big 1, then something and then 0. With my computer science background I got that "something" in between was a switch. Wish there would be at least a year - 1936, picture of Turing and mention of Turing machine.


This sculpture reminded me about Geometry Playground in Exploratorium
It was nice to see Reuleaux triangle application and constant width solids under it. Besides using this as a rolling attraction There could be added an activity when kids can build there own curves with constant width.
Before too many kids arrive some elderly people also can have fun riding this square wheel tricycle. To make your own square wheels follow these instructions.
I noticed this corner just because couple boys were having fun there. You can take a "brush", dip into "paint can" and then just with couple strokes artistic pattern will appear.
This paraboloid looked spectacular in the video featuring the opening of the museum. In daylight I did not succeeded to get that effect.
But musical spheres look also like one of the pictures in my book ;-) Without an explanation though I do not think kids understood what is going on. There were several school groups in the museum. One small group was with their teacher, and they followed with a great interest their teacher telling them about cross sections of solids and then challenging to get hexagon as cross section of the cube at  "The Wall of Fire".
I was happy to observe that MoMath is not like most of Science Centers which has turned mostly into little children playgrounds. It is a success of MoMath to get teenagers interested.
I think that the most successful exhibits are those where kids can have hands-on activities and particularly if they have something to figure out. Some of them were deeply engaged in Math Cafe were on tables are several puzzles. Of course, not all of them...
I also had to do something hands-on - so I tried this Fractal Tree. I wish I could have so many arms to have my work done....
MoMath is having lots of various activities. This Zome sculpture was built with the help of museum visitors on one of the weekends.
It is possible to organize a birthday party in the museum - great idea! One of offered activities during the party is to build this Sierpinski pyramid.
Once a month MoMath is having Family Fridays. My turn will be on April 26. I was pondering what title should I give to it and came up with "Crackers, Oranges, and Pringles". Got it what I will be talking about? ;-)
I am very much looking forward to March 6 Math Encounters because finally this event coincides with the time I will be in NYC.
Visiting museum it is very clear that the work is still going on. I read that since its opening some 18 000 visitors have gone through it. Not all of electronics can take such stream, so some exhibits already need repairs. But the staff in museum is actively thinking of more ways how to involve public, so that MoMath visit would not be just one time one.

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