The Talking Stick Blog

News, Updates, Program Recaps, and Homeschooling Information

Platonic Solids: The First Three Weeks

POLYDRONS (April 5 -19, 2018) In the past, I’ve often made the mistake of getting out “manipulatives”* to help students discover a certain mathematical concept only to find that the students wanted to engage in open-ended exploration. They weren’t interested in my agenda. So, for this course, I put the Polydrons on the table with no guidelines for two weeks….

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Invariants

(3/8/2018) During our course on Invariants, the eight-year-olds spent most of the time exploring the Euler Characteristic (click here for details). This report is essentially a list of other activities we did to start or finish our sessions. An invariant is something that never changes. Piagetian Conservation Tasks – We did every activity in this article: http://www.cog.brown.edu/courses/cg63/conservation.html. Conservation tasks basically…

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The Euler Characteristic for Eight-Year-Olds

(Jan. 25 – March 8, 2018) The five students (plus one occasional visitor) in our math circle spent six weeks doing like mathematicians do – savoring a math problem, learning it in depth before any attempts to solve it. I felt like Andrew Wiles in his decades-long work on Fermat’s Last Theorem. BEFORE THE COURSE: THINKING ABOUT IT I didn’t…

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Embodied Mathematics

(Nov 2 – Dec 7, 2017) Our 5-7 year olds just spent five weeks experiencing math with their bodies.* You can see some footage of this circle in action on the video we produced during the course. Thanks to all the students and parents who participated. Here’s a list/description of every activity we did.   Role-playing the need for math…

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Algorithms, Algebra, and College Admissions

(October 19 and 26, 2017) “Today we’re going to do something we’ve never done in a math circle here. We’re going to take a quiz.” Stricken looks on faces. “We’ll do it together, it’s just 2 questions, and I think it will be fun.” Relief. “I’m always on the lookout for things related to algorithms to share with you, and…

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Spotify and Random Number Generators

(October 12, 2017) “Everybody get a partner. Take a piece of paper. Take a pencil. Number your paper 1-30. You’re all going to flip a coin 30 times. In each partnership, decide which person will flip a real coin and which person will flip an imaginary coin.” That got their attention! I needed to harness their attention because many of…

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Stable Marriage, part 2

(October 5, 2017) We continued work on the Stable Marriage Problem today. After a discussion of the field of mathematics known as game theory, I put on the board the Jane Austen example that Emily Rhiel used in her Numberphile video. Six students used this example to teach the Gale Shapley algorithm to two students who had not been in…

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The Stable Marriage Problem (Gale Shapley Algorithm)

(October 2, 2017) I discovered this problem and was so excited – my students would love it, it directly tied in to the topic of our course, and it was a good example of a mathematical algorithm that all of the students would have sufficient math background to work. I wanted to do it right away, so I discarded my…

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Exploring the Google Page Rank Algorithm

(September 14, 2017) This week we talked about the Google PageRank algorithm. I facilitated it in the same way that Dr. Emile Davie Lawrence did at the recent National Math Festival in DC. I was fortunate to be in the audience during her presentation, which was recorded and available for viewing here: http://nationalmathfestival.org/photos-videos/. In Dr. Lawrence’s session, she remarkably interacted…

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Introducing Algorithms

(September 7, 2017) Today was the first session of our teen course “Our Algorithmic Culture.” My goals for today were to stimulate people’s imagination and curiosity, give students a sense of what an algorithm is, and provide some baseline cases and examples to keep returning to. I’d like to fill you in on the questions I asked that guided our…

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