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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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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CHROMATIC #, WEEK 6: No Mention of Aliens

(April 14, 2015)  In case you haven’t been following along, a bunch of 6-8 year olds have been tackling the Hadwiger-Nelson Problem (to determine the chromatic number of the plane) with the support of a narrative tale about aliens on a planet called Botso.  This week (our final), I dropped all references to the story.  The group engaged in an…

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Chromatic #, Week 4, Coloring the Plane

FUNCTION MACHINES (March 31, 2015)  The first student to present his Function Machine to the group was N.*  He drew the machine, then called on students whose hands were up to suggest “in” numbers.  He stated the out number for each, as follows: IN  OUT                           1                                 118                        20           20,089,000,000                           1                                 129                           2                             …

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Chromatic #, Week 2, Acting It Out

CHROMATIC NUMBER, 2, ACTING IT OUT (March 17, 2015)  “What do you remember of our problem from last week?”  I asked.  The students called out details until the problem was pieced together. THE PROBLEM Here it is in everyday language:  What’s the fewest number of colors an astronaut can use to mark out territory to be sure that you are…

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Chromatic #, Week 1, Mars and Botso

(March 10, 2015)  As the kids entered the room, they saw on the table were some images of life pods on Mars and… “Mars!”  exclaimed someone.  Immediately their curiosity was piqued. MARS ONE I told the kids about the Mars One project – a private company in the Netherlands planning to send 24 people to Mars to live.  We discussed…

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Mathematical Thinking with Five-Year-Olds, 1.0

Mathematical Thinking with Five-Year-Olds, 1.0 (March 18, 2014)  When I arrived for today’s session, some of the 5-year-olds were already there, bounding with excitement having spied on their older siblings in Math Circle over the past few years.  Now it was their turn, and they were owning it already.  They chose the room, chose the chairs, set up the chairs,…

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Function Machines, Etc. (Eye of Horus 3)

 Function Machines, Etc. (Eye of Horus 3) (October 1, 2013) In order to imbue our Math Circle with some levity, and to get kids thinking deeply about arithmetic operations, we played Function Machines.*  On the board, I had drawn a blob-like shape, of which everyone had a different interpretation – a blob, a wave, etc…  I asked for suggested design…

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