I confess. I never really liked math. I played the school game well so I received pretty good grades, but after I passed the test (even after receiving an A in most cases), those rules, theorems and facts didn’t stick around for very long.
The problem was everything was drilled into me, or as I like to think now, drilled out of me. I sat and did problem after problem before I really had a great grasp of with math could mean, how it related to my life and how I could approach it in a way that made sense to me. Everyone is different, but I needed more hands-on things, more time to invent my own problems. I’ve always loved literature and art, yet no one ever showed me how math is connected to those subjects.
I’m so excited that now, as an adult, I have the time and opportunity to get to know math all over again with my kids. I look forward to playing games with them, seeking out math connections in our lives and watching them grow up discovering patterns, arithmetic, percentages, and dozens of other experiences with numbers in their own way and in their own time.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take subjects traditionally taught in schools, one subject each week, and show you how they can be looked at in unusual ways. I’m starting with math because it was the subject I cared least about. I wanted to see if my research with present me with a new way of looking at math. And it did.
Here’s a list of ten unusual ways to look at math. The idea range across all ages and different interests.
1. Math Based Paintings – This website shows art works based on mathematical formulas. It also discusses the idea of chaos theory and self-similarity.
2. Philosophy, Physics, Mathematics – “Dangerous Knowledge” An hour and a half video on YouTube from the BBC. It focuses on the lives of four
mathematicians who combined philosophy and math to make history-changing discoveries.
3. GeoMath: The Math of Geography A fun site that shows the connections between math and geography. Fun ways to play with latitude and longitudes, graphs and time zones.
4. Space Math @NASA If your children love space and finding hidden objects, this site will fascinate them. As you find the differences between different pictures taken in space, you’ll also learn new ways that scientists use math.
5. Real Life Math Mysteries – A book that takes 28 different occupations and presents different problems they might encounter.
6. The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures – This book was written by a Brazilian mathematician. He creates marvelous tales about an Arabian adventurer who doles out wisdom and advice using his remarkable math skills. You’ll also learn the history behind some of the greatest mathematical minds in all of history through the tales in this book.
7. Math Games and Activities from Around the World – From Native American patterning and probability games from Mexico and Hawaii to board games from China, Korea and New Zealand, this fascinating book will introduce you to how many different cultures approach playing with math.
8. MathArts: Exploring Math Through Arts for 3 to 6 Year Olds – We’ve really enjoyed doing projects from this fun book by MaryAnn Kohl. Through creating murals mosaics and different patterns, it’s a nice way to show kids how counting, sequencing and measuring can be artful, too.
9. What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure Book If you kids love listening to stories, especially picture books, this book, as well as the rest of the series, is a great way to introduce kids to some great mathematicians and their discoveries. Others in the series include: Mummy Math, A Very Improbable Story, Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, Multiplying Menace, and a Place for Zero.
10. SchoolHouse Rock: Multiplication Edition My son loves anything to do with music. Whenever we get in the car, the first thing he asks for is to turn on the radio. If your kids are interested in learning more about multiplying numbers and the love music, this DVD is sure to get their attention.
Do you have any ideas about how math is connected in unusual ways to your world?
Did you like this post? Should I continue with this series? I’d love for you to let me know. Please jot a quick note in the comments below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to get free e-mail updates whenever there’s a new article posted just sign up for my mailing list at the right-hand corner of this page.
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