Monday, December 10, 2012

Math Museum To Open In New York

Public Knowledge

A museum dedicated to mathematics, the most fundamental of sciences, is scheduled to open on December 15th in New York City's Madison Square Park; its goal is to make math both meaningful and fun, particularly for kids.  Lisa Grossman for New Scientist writes:
"We want to show a different side of mathematics," says museum co-founder Cindy Lawrence. "Our goal is to get kids excited, and show them the math they're doing in school is just one tree in a whole huge forest."
To this end, mathematics pervades every aspect of the design, sometimes in surprising places. Take the museum's Enigma Café. At first glance, it looks like any other trendy, modern Manhattan cafe. But instead of coffee, puzzles will be served. And a careful look reveals that the floor is a 6-by-6 grid, the walls are made of Tetris-like puzzle shapes called pentominoes, and the tables are arranged as a knight would progress across a chessboard. "We try to hide math everywhere," says Lawrence.
The inspiration for MoMath came shortly after a beloved but dated museum on Long Island closed down in 2006. MoMath co-founder Glen Whitney, a former hedge fund analyst specialising in algorithms, got a group together to fill the void, but for months all they did was talk—until they were offered a booth at the 2009 World Science Festival in New York.
"There was a bit of a debate amongst the group about whether we should accept that offer because, in fact, we didn't really have anything to put in a booth," Lawrence says. But accept it they did, and the deluge of ideas they had for the booth overflowed into a travelling exhibit called the Math Midway. The Midway in its turn laid the groundwork for the full-scale museum, scheduled to open on 15 December in Madison Square Park.
This is one of those wonderful initiatives that has great potential to enrich the lives of children. A good grasp of math is a necessity to success in many fields, not only in the hard sciences, but also in law, medicine and high finance, to name a few. The list is long where having an understanding and a comfort with math is important. That the United States requires more mathematicians is well-known. Making math interesting is an excellent way to engage children at a young age and keep them engaged as adults; I wish the museum much success.

You can read the rest of the article at [New Scientist].

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