The California Math Show opened this week, on Saturday in Santa Cruz, CA, and all week in the lobby of the Math/Business building at California State University, San Bernardino. The CMS is a collection of hands-on exhibits related to symmetry, videos, and a giant kaleidoscope you can get into. Eventually we will supplement the low-tech activities with interactive computer programs.
The two main stations provide materials, recipes, examples, and questions encouraging visitors to construct their own tessellations and polyhedra. There are also stations to learn basic concepts of symmetry, and a selection of (computer-generated) coloring book pages to color on the spot or take home.
The CMS is a pilot project funded by the Eisenhower State Grants Program. If fully funded, it will travel around the state to middle schools and public locations such as community centers and shopping malls. The school visits will involve teacher education in using the CMS exhibits in their curricula, with follow-up via the internet.
Reactions so far: Kids really like it. Younger ones make polyhedral hats and dance inside the kaleidoscope. Adults are more inhibited; unless people are already sitting around making things, they will just look and walk by. Several classes of prospective elementary teachers were brought to the exhibit and given (fairly vague, open-ended) questions to answer. They all felt very comfortable, and got right down to work. I overheard lots of mathematically significant discussions.
[Another MAW event: lecture by historian of mathematics Judith Grabiner: "Maclaurin among the Molasses Barrels: Mathematics and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain" followed by tea and discussion about women in mathematics at the Women's Center]
Susan Addington (firstname.lastname@example.org) Math Department, California State University San Bernardino, CA 92407 World Wide Web: http://www.math.csusb.edu/