Trying to study knots with 5 crossings

We’ve been doing a little bit of work with knots lately. Today we were studying the knot with 5 crossings, and it wasn’t so easy.

I’d guess ahead of time that 5 crossing would be tricky. There’s a lot to keep track of! Even what seems like a simple task – making a knot with 5 crossings out of rope – isn’t so easy. See if you can spot the problem:

The boys didn’t notice the problem with their knot, yet, but the problem quickly became clear when they started playing with it:

So, we started over . . .

Having now made a knot with 5 crossings, we ended the project by trying to determine which of the two knots with 5 crossings that it was. We got a little bit of a surprise when it turned out that we’d actually made the mirror image of one of the knots we printed. That was an accidental good lesson, though – mathematicians consider those two knots to be the same even though they are not always the same.