I was in New York on Sunday afternoon and on the suggestion of Steve Severinghaus we took a trip to the brand-new Museum of Mathematics, which is a short walk from the Flatiron building.
It’s a great little place to take kids — there are quite a few exhibits which illustrate all sorts of mathematics from recreational math and Martin Gardner-esque pastimes like tessellations to an interactive video-floor which draws minimum distance spanning trees between the people standing on it. It apparently does Voronoi tessellations too but it wasn’t in that mode when I was there. There’s also a video wall which makes your body into a tree fractal, games, and a car-racing game based on the brachistochrone problem. The kids were all over that so I just got to watch.
One of the nice things was that there was a touch-screen explanation of each exhibit from which you could get three different “levels” of explanation depending on how much detail you wanted, and also additional information and references in case you wanted to learn more. That’s good because I think it will let parents learn enough to help explain the exhibit to their kids at a level that the parents feel comfortable. That makes it a museum for everyone and not just a museum for math-y parents who want to indoctrinate their children. On the downside, a lot of the exhibits were broken or under repair or under construction, so we really only got to see about 2/3 of the things.
Apparently it’s also a good place to go on a first date, as evidenced by some surreptitious people-watching. So if you’re in New York and want a romantic or educational time (aren’t they the same thing?), go check it out!
3 thoughts on “Mo’ math, mo’ solutions”
“On the downside, a lot of the exhibits were broken or under repair or under construction, so we really only got to see about 2/3 of the things.”
I was in on the initial plans for the museum (I was part of the puzzlehunt construction team until I got frustrated and left in a huff, although I think my metapuzzle idea was still semi-used) and this was my big concern. It seemed like they had a ton of really intricate and amazing exhibit ideas that would most likely break if you breathed on them, and it didn’t sound like they were going to have enough employees on duty to keep kids from wreaking havoc. I am glad that what was actually there and functioning is cool.
Dang. I was also in New York over the weekend with my brothers, and all the museums we wanted go to happened to be closed when we got to them. I wish I’d known about this place.
What a coincidence; somebody just told me about the museum this week,
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