My wife and kids are up hiking in New Hampshire this weekend and I’m home with a cat who misses the kids. Yesterday I was watching Ed Frenkel’s old Numberphile interview about why people hate math:
The line about 50 seconds in to the video has always really resonated with me – “How do we make people realize that mathematics is this incredible archipelago of knowledge?” As has the his point later in the video that mathematicians have not generally done a great job sharing math with the public (say from 5:00 to 6:30).
Frenkel’s piece has played a role in many of my blog posts, here are three:
Sam Shah – a high school teacher in New York – wrote a great piece about sharing math that is not typically part of a high school curriculum with kids, and gave some suggestions for projects:
Lior Pachter wrote an incredible blog post about sharing unsolved math problems under the Common Core framework. I copied his idea but used math from mathematicans rather than unsolved problems:
Then when the sphere packing problem was cracked by Maryna Viazovska earlier this year, I wrote about how this was a great opportunity for mathematicians to share a math problem with the public:
As you can tell, I watch Frenkel’s video quite a bit 🙂 While I was watching the video yesterday I received this message:
Though he isn’t a professional mathematician, this article from Brian Hayes is really close to what I’d love to see from mathematicians.
As are the articles by writers like Erica Klarreich and Natalie Wolchover at Quanta Magazine:
and mathematician Evelyn Lamb who has somehow found the time to write more than 150 articles on her “Roots of Unity” blog for Scientific American:
There were probably at least 10 to pick from, but here’s an example of how I’ve used one of Lamb’s pieces to talk a little bit about topology with my kids:
So, with that all as introduction (!) I was very excited to see Steven Strogatz share an article from Rich Schwartz last night:
I really enjoyed our project with Schwartz’s “Really Big Numbers” and I’m happy to see that he’s writing more about sharing math with kids. Hopefully Schwartz’s article will inspire a few more mathematicians to share some fun math with kids (or with the public in general). I’d love to expand this list of projects beyond 10 🙂