March 5, 2012

The Culture of Math

**I wrote this up a couple of weeks ago, but blogger has had a bug that wouldn't let me post pictures and I know you love pictures!  So I waited patiently and today it is working again!  Halleluiah!

We're slacking off for culture club this month.  Everyone gets a slacker month now and then and this is ours.  We wore ourselves out on legitimate cultures over the past few months and switched our sites over to cool math so we're going to present on the culture of math!

We had our intense Fibonacci week, so that will be Haven's culture.  We generally give him whatever we spent the most time on so that his little 4 year old brain doesn't go into overload trying to learn a bunch of new fact to spew.  He made a poster and is content to rattle off the first few numbers in the sequence and then eat pineapple.

Hunter is doing Sierpinski and made a giant Sierpinski triangle out of candy corn on his poster.  Sierpinski was apparently kind of fractal obsessed and now, so too is Hunter.

I downloaded a fractal generating program for him to play around with.  Not knowing how to write the formulas at all, he just starts with one of the preloaded fractals and tweaks it here and there, changing the color of this element, rotating that element on its axis.  He's pretty stinking proud of himself.   Then of course everyone whined that Hunter's math was cooler than theirs.

Hannah Jane said, "Can I just make a fractal.  You know...not for school or anything.  Just for fun."  Of course, I could have taken the high road, but I didn't.  I said, "You can make one if you admit that it is school and it is fun."  Her response?  "Fine."  Gah!

The kids thought this was boring as all get out, but I thought this was the most interesting talk about fractals I had ever seen!  Can you believe that aerial  photos of villages in Africa showed that the villages were actually arranges in fractals?  And the guy giving the talk got a grant to go there and look at their fractal villages.  He's a funny speaker.  Check him out!

Hannah Jane's math guy is Mobious.  She had her first ever adventures with a Mobious strip this week and honestly, she's never been so giddy.  "It's like a magic trick!  How does it do it?  This is amazing!!!"  (clearly she forgot all of her Mobious fun when she made her school is never fun comment)

She did one at the dinner table for Joe, who was wowed by it as well.  After the kids went to bed, we found ourselves in the kitchen making Mobious strips of our own and making lay conjectures about the nature of edges and whether the Mobious strip should actually be wowing at all since it technically comes from a single edged object (the strip of paper has only one continuous edge before you tape it) to some other single edged object.  When Joe realized that, the joy was gone.  Until we cut it in 2 rounds, resulting in the one Mobious strip linked to the other.  We realized based on our edge markings that the smaller strip was actually somehow from the center of the original.  That was remarkable enough to get Joe back on the wow train.  So yeah.  When we finally had a bit of quiet alone time, we spent it in a dark kitchen doing elementary school math and blowing each others' minds.  Mature.

Our cultural food will be pineapple (our favorite  Fibonacci food) and bagels with coordinate points sketched in edible marker.  The kids will team up and try to cut their bagels with the coordinates in mind to get a bagel whose 2 halves are interlinked.  Good luck with that little ones!  Mwa ha ha!!!  ( An after the fact note here...I could NOT cut the bagel into interlocking parts so I didn't make the points on them for the kids.  However, 2 moms asked to try it so I marked the points for them and they did it!  I'm blaming my knife.  CC is at my friend Steff's house and she is what I call a knife snob (meaning that she actually only owns knives that cut and has been known to turn her nose up at my dull, should have been thrown out years ago knives) and although my dad bought me some excellent knives last time he visited (because he's a knife snob too!) for some reason I didn't think my bagel math was worthy of my pristine daddy knives and I went for a dull one.  My bad.) I found the how-to with all of the bagel coordinates over at the adorable, the brilliant, the one and only Vi Hart's blog and then realized that the author of the how-to was actually George Hart.  Could it be?  Could the Harts be a family of enchanting and witty math geniuses?  George, whose relation to Vi is unknown to me, is the Chief of Content at a Math Museum of all things!  Holy smokes!  If I've been wrong and reincarnation is for real, let me just put in my plea to the man upstairs now that I come back as a Hart.  Oh to be a Hart!

That's all for now!  Go see if you can cut a bagel into interlocking halves and let me know how it goes!

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