Friday, February 3, 2012

Clandestine Math Lab

I was given the gift of a fabulous idea today.

I was talking to a friend about some of the stuff I was writing yesterday, here on the blog and elsewhere. I told him about my favorite bit of the day, written in response to someone saying they still have anxiety over being able to teach math.

...if you were here, I'd murmur sweet relaxing math-sounds for you, to help you relax.
I'd speak of patterns and beauty, of sound and motion. We'd measure and compare, discuss and argue. We'd look at all sorts of things, and collect some, and decide how we wanted to display them. We'd spend hours and days and weeks and longer, pondering the "big questions" and we'd play checkers, chess, dominoes, Go, battleship, mastermind, and other games. We'd build things, sew things, paint things. We'd shop together, buy food, and create feasts for our friends. We'd do these, and many other things, and not once, during all that time, would I "teach" you any math. Not once.
But you could not possibly do all those things and not learn any.

My friend's response was quite wonderful.
It started with "You know what you should do?", which is how many very interesting things begin.

He then said I should create a "Clandestine Math Lab."

Maybe that's not nearly so funny for most of you. It's a play on a "Clandestine Meth Lab," something all emergency responders should be trained to recognize, and we have been.

But the moment he said it, MY mind went "Yes!  I WANT one!"

Part of the training is about how people may hide the materials and equipment just about anywhere, including in plastic bins in the back of a car. Since learning that, my family has had a running joke calling plastic bins "meth lab boxes."

So now, we're going to create a "Clandestine Math Lab Box" in one of those bins.

The best part, so far, is deciding what should be in the bin.

Here's the list we have at the moment:

A Ball of String
Rubber Bands
Thumb Tacks
Blocks: various shapes including cubes, squares, etc.
Popsicle/craft sticks
Dominoes (the kind with dots, and the kind for lining up to knock down)  
Paper of various kinds: graph, tracing, plain white, construction, notebook, card stock, wax paper, origami
Cardboard tubes
Scissors, x-acto knife
Pencils and pens, colored markers, sharpies, colored pencils
Needles and thread, pins, scraps of fabric
Paper Clips
A ruler
A measuring tape
Various kinds of tape: duct tape, packing tape, masking tape, clear tape
Glue of various kinds
Some cardboard
Magnifying glass
Various containers
A balance  and a kitchen scale
Measuring cups
Eye droppers
Games: Go, Chess, Checkers, Mastermind, Set
A Deck of cards (or two)
Blank cards: index cards, business cards, etc
Poker Chips
A jump rope
A thermometer
A tuning fork
A recorder, harmonica, kalimba and/or other small musical instruments
A watch, with a second hand, and the ability to be used as a stopwatch

This would be like the best birthday present, EVAR!

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