Tagmathpunk

Calculus for Kindergarteners

Luba Vangelova reports on a group that believes it may be better to introduce certain elements of, say, calculus to young kids before more route ideas like multiplication tables:

Finding an appropriate path hinges on appreciating an often-overlooked fact—that “the complexity of the idea and the difficulty of doing it are separate, independent dimensions,” she says. “Unfortunately a lot of what little children are offered is simple but hard—primitive ideas that are hard for humans to implement,” because they readily tax the limits of working memory, attention, precision and other cognitive functions. Examples of activities that fall into the “simple but hard” quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns.

Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend “function box” that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).

“You can take any branch of mathematics and find things that are both complex and easy in it,” Droujkova says. “My quest, with several colleagues around the world, is to take the treasure of mathematics and find the accessible ways into all of it.”

Full Story: The Atlantic: 5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus

(via Metafilter)

The book Moebius Noodles attempts to put these ideas into practice.

See also:

Punk Rock Mathematics

Computer-Based Math

Punk Mathematics Author Tom Henderson to Keynote EsoZone Portland 2011

Tom Henderson, author of the forthcoming book Punk Mathematics, will keynote EsoZone Portland 2011 on November 18th at p:ear. Admission is free. Tom’s talk is tentatively titled “Time, Space, and the Self are Illusions – So Do ‘You’ Wanna Go ‘Out’ with ‘Me’ ‘Tonight’?” He’ll cover:

    • Mining your history for strategy
    • Virtual paranoia
    • Your eigenself and “you”
    • Using the howling void beyond your epsilon of consciousness for a good time

Tom has a masters in mathematics from Portland State University. According to the Kickstarter page for his book:

Punk Mathematics will be a series of mathematical stories. It is written for readers who are interested in having their minds expanded by the strange metaphors and implications of mathematics, even if they’re not always on friendly terms with equations. Better living through probability; the fractal dimension of cities and cancers; using orders of magnitude to detect bullshit; free will and quantum economics; and the mathematics of cooperation in a networked world on the brink of a No Future collapse.

For more on Tom, you can follow him on Twitter, read the Technoccult interview with him or listen to this interview on the Acme Science podcast Strongly Connected Components.

EsoZone Portland 2011 will take place over the course of November 18th and 19th. It will include a few pre-scheduled presentations, workshops and performances along with ample free space for ad-hoc “unconference” sessions in the style of BarCamp or Bird of a Feather.

Watch this space for more announcements.

New Interview with Mathpunk Tom Henderson

Mathpunk

There’s a new interview with Tom Henderson (aka Mathpunk) on the podcast Strongly Connected Components. Tom talks about numeracy, his teaching style and whatever happened to Math for Primates.

Strongly Connected Components: Tom Henderson

My interview with Tom is here.

Elementary Study of Symmetry Online Workshop, No Math Background Needed

Symmetry workshop poster

If you don’t know who Fadereu is, I’m not sure I can explain him quickly or accurately. For simplicity sake, he’s an Indian artist and mathematician – and he’s running an online workshop of the study of symmetry:

he KNK101 workshop introduces the elementary study of symmetry ( known as ‘group theory’) to an audience with no background in mathematics. This field of mathematics has very little to do with numbers, instead – it studies transformation and movement of abstract structures. The applications of group theory range from simple permutation puzzles and military or monetary cryptography to particle physics and general relativity, making it the central conceptual framework of our age.

The workshop is spread over 6 weeks ( or three fortnights ) and the details for registration are here. [ tldr: just drop me a mail at fadebox/gmail. The fee is $50 (international) and the equivalent Rs 2400 for India. Please hurry!]

Fadereu: KNK101 Workshop (Feb15-Mar30, 2011): The Complete Syllabus

Help Fund the Punk Mathematics Book

Tom Henderson, who I interviewed on his punk philosophy of mathematics, is writing a book and you can help fund it. He’s already surpassed his fund raising goal, but I’m sure he could always use more.

Punk Mathematics will be a series of mathematical stories. It is written for readers who are interested in having their minds expanded by the strange metaphors and implications of mathematics, even if they’re not always on friendly terms with equations. Better living through probability; the fractal dimension of cities and cancers; using orders of magnitude to detect bullshit; free will and quantum economics; and the mathematics of cooperation in a networked world on the brink of a No Future collapse.

Kickstarter: Punk Mathematics

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