10 women in math who inspired our math projects

(1) Fawn Nguyen

Fawn Nguyen has actually inspired so many of our projects it is hard to just pick one – she just share so much good stuff – but this Zome project is one that I’ll always remember.

A 3D Geometry Proof With few words courtesy of Fawn Nguyen

Her picture frame project is also one of the best math projects for kids that I’ve ever seen:

Of course, her love of Nebraska has **nothing** to do with why we love her so much 🙂


(2) Laura Taalman

Laura Taalman’s Makerhome blog introduced us to amazing world of 3D printing. Again, it is hard to pick just one project, but one that really stands out was inspired by her pentagon prints:

Using Laura Taalman’s 3d printed pentagons to talk math with kids

There are probably at least 30 other projects inspired by her on our blog.

(3) Kate Nowak

Kate Nowak is constantly sharing great math ideas on Twitter. Unfortunately (for me) the ideas are usual for kids older than mine, but every now and then one seems like it will work well even if it is a little over their heads. For example, I loved the conversation from the kids in this project:

Using Kate Nowak’s rotated parabola with kids

I also can’t thank Nowak enough for introducing us to Patty Paper Geometry.

(4) Tracy Johnston Zager

I’ve learned a ton from Zager’s tweets, blogging, and videos. Her talk at Shadowcon was particularly fascinating:

Tracy Johnston Zager’s Shadowcon Talk

She’s inspired a couple of projects, but I especially liked this number theory question that came from a 4th grade class:

Part of the reason that I remember the tweet so well is that she (I think) didn’t like the problem, but was looking for feedback. Her sharing this problem reminded me to keep a much more open mind about ideas that I don’t like initially:

A neat number theory problem for kids from Tracy Johnston Zager

(5) Evelyn Lamb

As I write this blog, Lamb’s latest piece on Scientific Amerian’s website is an amazing article about math and sewing:

How to sew like a Mathematician

Also as I write this blog, my FB status is “I wish I could write like Evelyn Lamb.”

What I love about Lamb’s writing is that she makes advanced mathematical ideas accessible to the public. That helps me – again and again and again – think about ways to make parts of those ideas accessible to kids. Here are two ideas from topology that we looked at because of her posts / tweets:

Using Evelyn Lamb’s infinite earring article with kids

Evelyn Lamb’s fun torus tweet

(6) Katie Steckles

This video inspired 3 projects with the boys and then two super fun nights with the 2nd and 3rd graders at my younger son’s school. Watch it – you will be blown away:

I can’t thank Steckles enough for making this video. It really made me believe that there were ways to share really advanced math ideas with kids and that the kids would love seeing these ideas. Here are a few of our projects:

Our One Cut Project

The Fold and Cut Theorem is Awesome

(7) Bryna Kra

Kra gave a great talk as part of a public lecture series at the Museum of Math.

The talk was about patterns and disorder and led to a really fun talk with the boys about patterns:

Angry Birds and Snap Cubes using Bryna Kra’s MoMath Public Lecture

(8) Anna Weltman

Anna Weltman’s book This is Not a Math Book is filled with great projects. The “loop-de-loop” project was one that my kids absolutely loved:


My younger son’s 4th grade class spent several days playing around with the idea, and I loved using our Zometool set to make large loops in our living room!

Anna Weltman’s Loop de Loops part 2

(9) Dana Rowland

My older son was at Merrimack College taking an exam and I spent 20 minutes talking with Dana Rowland who is co-head of their math department. She introduced me to a fun minimal surface project. Her project used wires and was a little more complicated that what we did (and needed more dexterity than I had, I think), but the Zome version (totally coincidentally suggested by Paula Beardell Kreig about a week later) turned out to be amazing:


Zometool and Minimal Surfaces

(10) Tina Cardone

I was lucky to meet Cardone at the MTBoS booth at the NCTM conference in Boston. She teaches, organizes conferences, writes books, shares math on twitter, and probably 25 more things I barely know about.

A geometry problem she shared in 2014 led to two really fun projects with the boys and got me thinking about how 3D printing could help kids learn 2d geometry:

A cool geometry problem shared by Tina Cardone

A Follow up to our Tina Cardone Geometry Project

Using 3D Printing to help kids learn algebra and 2d geometry

(11) A post publication addition – Ann-Marie Ison’s math-art

After writing this post I saw a series of tweets from Ann-Marie Ison. The combination of number theory and art was incredible and the kids loved exploring it.

Using Ann-Marie Ison’s incredible math art with kids

Extending our project with Ann-Marie Ison’s art

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