While lucky folk are attending various NCTM Regional events this month, closer to home (my home, that is) I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first workshop in a 3-part series entitled Hands-On Mathematical Construction
taught by George Hart
through Math for America
. George Hart is identified by Wikipedia as "an American Geometer" (did you know Wikipedia has a list of geometers?); he is actually a research professor in the engineering school at Stony Brook University and a freelance mathematical sculptor/designer. And he's Vi Hart's dad.
In this first meeting, which was simulcast to teachers across New York State, we built a truncated icosahedron out of CDs and zip ties. But we participants weren't just told what to do; we first learned how to draw 2 dimensional representations of these 3 dimensional objects, and transform our drawings into plans for the construction of our group sculpture. George Hart dynamically led us through some of the geometry behind the construction we were making; he is admittedly not a teacher of school-age children, but his ideas and enthusiasm easily opened the door for us to consider how this type of activity might be used in a range of classrooms. He and his team are putting together a detailed lesson plan for use by teachers, and he is open to feed back about implementing this type of project in schools.
I can't wait for the next session, when we will be doing paper constructions, and plan to spend some time digging through his website. Check it out!
- Wendy Menard