16 May, 2014
Volume 19 No. 20
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In This Issue

Beyond Rubik's Cube

The Digits' PBS Pilot

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Turns 50


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Beyond Rubik's Cube


What has six faces, 54 stickers, sales approaching 400 billion units worldwide — and more than 100 million times that many permutations? Rubik's Cube®!

The world's best-selling toy turns 40 this year, and to celebrate, the Liberty Science Center (LSC) has built the first ever museum exhibition devoted to the puzzle.

Come to the Jersey City, New Jersey, museum and admire Ernő Rubik's original paper-clip prototype. Among other artifacts never before publicly displayed: the fully functional Masterpiece Cube, crafted by a jeweler out of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethyst, sapphire, and 18-karat yellow gold.

LSC's 7,000 square foot exhibit further invites you to

  • visit the Solve Bar, where "expert cubers teach willing mortals to solve the Rubik's Cube"
  • hand a scrambled cube off to a robot to solve in seconds
  • listen to the Cube Symphony
  • create a cube mosaic wall
  • operate a giant mechanical cube that stands 10 feet tall and weighs more than a ton
  • compose haiku by twisting the Haikube
  • snap a picture next to a life-sized bronze Cube Man sculpture
  • flip through a book about color mixing and patterns that was written and illustrated by LSC's Young Learner team

Can't get enough of the brainteaser's 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possibilities? Play online — or remote-control the LED panels of the 26 foot-tall Groovik's Cube suspended from the museum's ceiling:


PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week

"My future husband sent me one in the mail called 'Who Owns the Zebra?' We continued to trade logic puzzles through the mail (there wasn't any Internet then, as this was the mid-1980's), and as soon as we got one in the mail, we would call the other person (no text messages then) and say, 'Go!' and then race to figure out the solution.... Just yesterday, I was taking off my bike helmet and putting it on the bookshelf on our porch, and lo and behold, there was the book! It's never been written in. I didn't want to use it up, so I remember I would redraw the solution grids and solve each problem on a separate piece of paper (copiers weren't as available then either). And yes, we do have an entire 7' bookshelf of mostly math books on our porch.... As many of you discovered, one important part of solving problems like this is to organize your work and try to keep track of what you do and don't know. A lot of you did a great job with that, and I've chosen a ton of solutions to show you...."
- Annie, commenting on the FunPoW's Latest Solution

The Digits' PBS Pilot


A web series starring an outer space rock band that teaches math has been granted thirteen episodes on the stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) — and its creators want your help staging the pilot show.

Guided by a curriculum designer and implemented by a 20-year veteran schoolteacher, "The Digits" appeals to children "too old for Sesame Street." With the PBS deal in hand, the team have decided to crank it up to eleven, launching an Indiegogo campaign to market and perform a live staged reading of their pilot script in Portland, Oregon:


Perks of this fundraiser to "put the 'public' back in Public Television" include

  • a digital download of the rock-and-roll album "Homework Hotline"
  • a digital download of the app "The Digits: Fraction Blast"
  • a VIP ticket to attend the staged reading (or, if outside Portland, a private link to the live stream)
  • an invitation to submit your original artwork for use as decoration on the walls of The Digits' spaceship
  • personalized voicemail from the band's drummer, Gorgolax

The drive ends next Friday, 23 May. In this, its final week, contributions will get matched by Initia Education, which provides expertise in test preparation and academic tutoring to Southern California.

The Digits' first two seasons have included an "appisode" — which combines live action video with over a dozen interactions and minigames — and episodes such as

  • The Rule of Nines
  • Sha-Doom-Poo: Determining Ounces per Dollar
  • The Galaxy Twins: Making Change
  • Bar Charts and Pie Charts (That's So Roadiebot)
  • Queen Plurbis and The Parts of a Circle

Catch up on all the mathematical, musical comedy by tuning in to The Digits' YouTube channel:


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"Thanks for the shout-outs these past few days! Means a lot."
- Trey, tweeted to @themathforum

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Turns 50


The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) began celebrating its 50th anniversary in style two days ago, when it received HRH The Princess Royal as its Guest of Honour.

Wednesday's Royal Society bash marked the first in a series of events looking forward to "the developments and limitless opportunities for the applications of mathematics in the next 50 years and celebrating the achievements of the past." In early July at the University of Manchester, the IMA will run the first Festival of Mathematics and its Applications, with hands-on mathematical exhibitions, popular and academic talks, math busking, debates, competitions, discussions, and more.

Not going to be in England this summer? Oxford University Press has just published a 208-page book commissioned to celebrate the IMA's golden anniversary. 50 Visions of Mathematics boasts 50 full color images that demonstrate the beauty of mathematics, and 50 accessible, thought-provoking articles on a wide variety of topics through the spectrum of mathematics and its applications.

Intended for a general reader with an interest in math who would like to learn more about its relevance to their lives, 50 Visions of Mathematics showcases the beauty of the subject as well as "its unreasonable effectiveness and applicability, without frying your brain." Order in hardcover or eBook format now:


The IMA supports the advancement of mathematical knowledge and its applications, and promotes and enhances mathematical culture in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, for the public good. Last summer, it debuted a newsletter written for students ages 16-19. IMA's "e-16+ Newsletter" covers careers that make use of mathematics, career profiles, short articles that show how mathematics is used in the real world, puzzles, advice, and other mathematical information. Register to get the e-16+ Newsletter by e-mailing the address that appears in the first issue:



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