# Activities

Former MEGL Director of Outreach Speaking about Outreach at a Recent Activity

The students learn about prime numbers, the “atoms” of the counting numbers. They arrange glass beads into rectangular arrays and then decompose them, while drawing a “number tree” to keep track of their work. When they’re finished they create paper plate Monsters that represent the prime number decomposition of their original number. Then they try to decode each others’ Monsters to figure out what numbers they represent. This activity is inspired by a book (with the same title) by Richard Schwartz.

Created by Sean Lawton

A 1×1 square has area 1. A 2×2 square has area 4. Can we make a square with area 2? Students begin to make sense of irrational numbers by engaging in a variety of activities that showcase all the places they pop up in our lives. After drawing the elusive square of area 2, students discover the role that pi has while throwing straws at a felt wall in a live simulation of Buffon’s Needle. They then learn about nature’s affinity for a particular irrational ratio and create their own Fibonacci spiral.

Created by Aidan Donahue, Susan Tarabulsi, Martha Hartt, Harry Bray, and Lujain Nsair

How big is REALLY big? How can we imagine numbers like a Googol, which has 100 zeros? What about numbers that make a Googol seem tiny? How far up do numbers go? This activity is designed for elementary school students. By stepping through different orders of magnitude, using hands-on activities along the way, students gain an intuition for the sheer magnitude of the real numbers. This activity is inspired by a book (with the same title) by Richard Schwartz.

Created by Sean Lawton and Jack Love

It stands on its own but also is a great sequel to Really Big Numbers. Students use a variety of interactive puzzles and games, and activities to explore the strange world of the infinite. What is infinity plus one? Are there different sizes of infinity? Join us to find out! This activity is inspired by a book by Richard Schwartz (titled Gallery of the Infinite).

Created by Sean Lawton, Jack Love, and Anton Lukyanenko

Is there more to math than numbers? Can we “multiply” things that aren’t numbers? How about the motions (or, symmetries) of a snowflake? What does a symmetry multiplication table look like, and what can it tell us about the motions a snowflake makes as it falls? How are snowflake symmetries the same as numbers? How are they different? In this activity students create their own paper snowflakes and experiment with them to explore these questions. Along the way we discover beauty hiding just beneath the surface, and find there is more to math than we thought!

Created by Sean Lawton

The students learn what they’ve been taught in school isn’t necessarily the truth! They experience simple mathematical “facts” being turned on their heads by changing the context in which they appear. Through kinesthetic activities and manipulatives including balloons and special clocks, they see that 2+2 isn’t always 4, that triangles aren’t what they thought they were, that some squares have negative area, and that it is possible to divide by 0.

Created by Sean Lawton

We first teach participants about the “Cinderella” of geometry–the least appreciated and most beautiful. We then teach participants how to crochet so they can make their own exotic shapes in yarn. This activity is inspired by a book by Daina Taimina .

Created by Sean Lawton