by Bethany Johnsen
The National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan, which opened to positive reviews in December, is far more popular than anticipated, achieving its expected first year’s worth of visitors—60,000—within its first 3 months. This Education Week article contains interesting reflections on the cultural importance of mathematics exhibits—of which there are currently very few—and of changing the public’s perception that math is little more than rote memorization and number crunching. For myself, it was not until I reached college that I was exposed to mathematical concepts I found interesting. I read the chapter of our textbook that explained infinity with real awe. Of course, by then I was firmly on the liberal arts path, and for many students such crucial moments of excitement and wonder in a math class never occur.
If you won’t have the opportunity to take your gifted child to MoMath or its travelling exhibit, the Math Midway, this summer, there are still plenty of ways to engage him or her in informal mathematics discovery. The Museum’s website offers a number of paper-based geometric activities, and the Exploratorium’s Geometry Playground activities will get your child outside to explore the richness of mathematics in the world around us.