The Talking Stick Blog

News, Updates, Program Recaps, and Homeschooling Information

GARDNER #5: Life, Murder, and Box Tops

LIFE (October 21, 2014)  Last week’s boardwork was on display before the students arrived.  M, who was absent last week, was early for class today.  She saw the board and immediately asked, “Why does it say ‘die?’” “Ask them,” I told her, indicating J and L, who were also early for class.  J set the board up for Life1. Then…

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GARDNER #4: Conway’s Game of Life

(October 14, 2014) “I’d like to show you my creatures,”  I announced as everyone arrived.  I already had everyone’s rapt attention – the word “creatures” will do that.  I opened a box that seemingly contained a Go board and Go stones. “That’s a Go board,” protested J, as I unfolded the board. “No, this is the habitat of my creatures. …

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MARTIN GARDNER #3: MAZE OF MINOTAUR AND SCRAMBLED BOXTOPS

OLD BUSINESS (October 7, 2014)  Since I had forgotten my Gardner books last week, this week I began class with reading aloud his versions of the problems.  “His wording is confusing,” commented one of the kids.  (To me, his wording is remarkably clear;  I suspect that this is more a vocabulary issue.) First we revisited “A Switching Puzzle.”  The kids…

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MARTIN GARDNER #2: SWITCHING AND FOLDING

BRONX vs. BROOKLYN (UPTOWN VS. DOWNTOWN SUBWAYS) (9/30/2014)  We talked briefly about this problem from last week.  It turns out that everyone did remember and agree on its solution.  I told the kids what I had been thinking about during the week – that if there was confusion about the solution, that maybe we could draw or symbolize the passage…

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MARTIN GARDNER #1: Mutilated Chessboard and Bronx vs. Brooklyn

In our first Math Circle of the year, we ushered in Gardner’s centennial with a look at some problems from his classic book My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles.   The problems seem almost whimsical because of how compelling they are.  They are, in fact, quite serious;  they touch on deep mathematical issues.  I had 5 problems prepared to look at…

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All-You-Can-Eat Buffet: Outlier or Norm?

All we know for sure is that math is art. I had hoped that we could quickly focus attention by starting with a game of “How Are They Different?” I had thought that we could eliminate the distraction of inequitable turn-taking by saying, “We’ll go from youngest to oldest.” I was wrong. It was easy to know that N goes…

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