Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Only Math Museum Ever in America

If you are like most Americans you hate math and maybe even have a kid in summer school still trying to figure out the answers. Yet the only hope for a good career lately is in engineering and that requires a knowledge of math. We all need to be exposed to the practical reasons for even learning all those formulas and graphs. Hockey players are doing geometric angles every time they slap the puck on the side of the arena just like you create angles when you do a creative pool shot into the side pocket.

Well take one difficult subject plus one dedicated visionary add an additional $23 Million dollars and that equals a Math museum. It is about time someone spent some time and money dedicated to teaching math in a fun way. After all we have art and science museums why not math museums? Well they don’t exist until now. Finally in the 21st Century we have the first ever Math Museum. Boy, could we use one.

The very word Math congers up for many painful memories. Long division, square roots, the quadratic equation might as well be a foreign language to some Americans. In an international test given to 15 year olds, out of 64 countries, the United States placed #24 . That is a disgrace since Americans have access to any learning aid available. Somehow it is not ok to be bad at reading but it is acceptable to not be any good at math.

Our math curriculum is designed to train rocket scientists and has been in place since the cold war days of the 60’s. Fifty years ago there was a race to get to the moon and everyone wanted to know how to do it so math was big then. We needed the bright math driven scientists to get us to the moon first before the Soviet Union. Now we need engineers to invent the next big gadget or newest video game craze.

The Museum of Mathematics opened recently in New York City. With 23 million dollars behind it the place is more like a playground than a classroom with many interactive stations to choose from. There is a square wheeled tricycle you can ride that surprisingly has a smooth ride. The close relationship between math and music is explored through a display of chords , major and minor, happy and sad groups of notes.

They explore fractals which is repetitious patterns where the same image is repeated over and over again but in smaller sizes. It looks much better than just a series of equations on paper. Even the bathrooms are interesting in that the plumbing uses shapes to expedite the flow of water down the drains. The sinks are pentagonal that go down into a triangle drain.

The message is simple that math is everywhere and is part of our daily lives. Just telling time is the driven pace for the creation of mathematics with the lunar phases and the angles; the ever moving rotation around the sun makes. It is the mathematical art of time keeping. Putting on your glasses involves optics and the classification of lenses. Making your tie in the morning involves knot theory. It is simply like taking a piece of rope and just not making it a simple circle.

They have knot making classes in the museum. The point is that math can be fun and you can see how important it is in our daily lives. Even the name Google comes from the mathematical term “googol” for the number one followed by 100 zeros.

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