Session Documents

Math and Making Open Conference Notes


3.  Mathematics and Making:  Where do they meet? 

Facilitators:  Ricardo Nemirovsky and Josh Gutwill



Ricardo:  We should focus more on process rather than math content. Josh heard science process skills.   We want to avoid, saying oh, there is volume here, and area here, we use stereotypes: he may not realize it, but he’s doing measurement..there is a danger here. The math is inherent in the making...How do we make these easy identification...


A: we need to mess around with math more…we need to mess around with it for 5-10 years…


B: Let’s bring the people in from the community. We need to mess around with it with them.  


C: process v content. Back in the old days science was the naming of parts. we used to consider people who knew the scientific names of things as good at science. Think about math sentences, how does this change as this other thing changes, look at the verbs. Look at the language. They think of practices as different than geometry or algebra.  


D: there are different ways to think about solving the same problem in math. She wants to communicate her passion and enthusiasm.  


E: There were four making experiences: make and take, make and stays, different ways of making, temporary v. permanent, are there different affordances of given activities   that help us to get at the maths. Every group tried to make a cube stand up. Are there mathy things that intersect with maker activities that are more or less effective.  


A: the dowels activity of building the cube is perfect as it is.


Ricardo: are there specific stuff that is mathematical. Is there a need to mess about with math?


Drawing in Motion: we brought it to San Diego. Worked with 17 families. Mathematical instrument that is an instrument for drawing. It’s mathematical because of the kind of ideas that are brought into the use of it. He thinks that any building block is a mathematical instrument. Perhaps with making lab what becomes is that the blocks don’t have to be pre-made. Don’t have to be lego. Structure City at Math Museum there are polyhedrons that you can build with—these are mathematical instruments. Learning to be sensitive to different things and relationships.  


Developing your own tool kit form math fabrication. MIT Class “How to Build Anything” Class. the first thing you do is use laser cutter to build a d3D cardboard product.  


Ricardo: worked with 9-10 year olds, bolts of fabric, use laser cutter, children talked about how the cuts influenced the final shape. The use of the cuts is a mathematical process.  


F:  South End   Tech, experiment we’re doing on twitter, 3d printed drawing robot found on Instructables, we all started to print the turtle and then make Arduino work with it, they’ve been having the kids use these and trying to make them draw perfect squares, and there is lots of iteration and troubleshooting. So there is this tool that many people are experimenting with. We’ve been documenting how to make them but we didn’t document the entire process.  


Ricardo : the history of mathematics may be very instructive. The ruler and compass are instructive. Josh’s gesture was of a compass. There was a time in the history of mathematics that people were developing instruments for making different shapes. Those tools structure are very informative and instructive.  


Josh: we need get math educators and makers together to play and start with the math instead of the reverse engineering we’ve been doing at this conference.


Maybe look for mathematical instruments. those mathematical instruments become the core.  


Ricardo teaches projected geometry. Final is an art project. They project shape in certain scales. The projection is a tool.  


G: we need to be clear about design goals. Most mathematicians don’t have much insight into how kids understand math. Do we get mathematicians and makers together or math educators and makers/tinkerers.   Almost all of our examples focus on geometry.


C: I’d like to see more data visualizations be part of making. Wants to go back to Josh’s point. get math educators and makers together. let’s go to some iconic math exhibits and activities. Perhaps bring curriculum developers into the conversation too. We had to throw out anything from curriculum that was making: quilts, mobiles, because it took too much time and materials. Making can’t be done in classrooms any more b/c of time.


F: can we use storytelling more as a strategy? stories about mathematicians and their struggles? Math always tells a story. Stories that children tell about their mental models of math? Math educator in residence?


H: Please include engineering education people too.  


I: Maybe include a couple of mathematicians too.