What do you mean you can’t do that in your head?! In this session we had fun learning how to do a lot of handy calculations. Each trick has a simple algebra rule behind it. Check out our handout! Continue reading Mental math, version two

# Category Archives: BMC Session

# Adding together infinitely many numbers

It is often necessary to add more than two numbers together. For example, you might have made 137 deposits to your bank account this year, and wonder how much you contributed in total. But is it possible to add infinitely many numbers together? The answer is that sometimes it is possible, and sometimes it isn’t! In this discussion we investigated when, why, and how! Continue reading Adding together infinitely many numbers

# Ovals upon ovals!

A circle has a center c and a radius r. The points on the circle are all a distance of exactly r units from c. What if we start with **two** fixed center points? The set of points on an **ellipse** have a fixed sum-distance to two center points c1 and c2 (called foci). An ellipse has kind of an oval shape. Ellipses occur in nature – the Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle but rather an ellipse, with the Sun being just one of the two foci.

In this activity we investigated how to draw ellipses using pushpins and string. We also asked whether it is possible to have more than two fixed center points. Continue reading Ovals upon ovals!

# Mars moon mission

Suppose you are sending a crew of scientists to the moons of Mars: Phobos and Deimos. The scientists are botanists, geologists, and mathematicians, or any combination of the three. You want to divide the crew into to halves so that each moon gets an equal number of each scientists. When can this be done? Continue reading Mars moon mission

# The game SET

The card game SET is well-known amongst game players. Each card has four characteristics, and each characteristic has three outcomes. Twelve cards are placed face up, and players try to find a set of three cards with each characteristic all the same or all different. It turns out there is a lot of math going on! For example, are twelve cards enough to guarantee you will be able to find a set? If not how many do you need? Continue reading The game SET

# Cave person games

What kinds of games can be played using just stones? It turns out quite a few! In this session we investigated three games in particular. Continue reading Cave person games

# Taking in the whole room

Suppose you have a room, and you need to guard it using ceiling mounted cameras. Assume the cameras can see in 360 degrees. If the room is very simple, such as a square shape, you can get away with just one. But if the room is more complicated, say with nooks and crannies, you may need many cameras. How can you find how many? Continue reading Taking in the whole room

# Multiplying points in the plane

It is easy to add points in the plane “coordinatewise”, that is, by writing (x,y)+(z,w)=(x+z,y+w). This even has a very nice geometric interpretation: completing the parallelogram with first three corners (0,0), (x,y), and (z,w). But it isn’t easy to multiply points because the simple rule (x,y)*(z,w)=(xz,yw) doesn’t allow division. In this activity we looked for something better. Continue reading Multiplying points in the plane

# Graph isomorphism

A *graph* is a collection of dots (called vertices) joined by curve segments (called edges). It doesn’t matter how you name the vertices and it doesn’t matter where you put them in your drawing. Two graphs are called *isomorphic* if you can rearrange the way one of them is drawn to make it look like the other. So for example you might convince yourself that a pentagon and pentagram are isomorphic to each other.

# Sudoku and latin squares

Today our guests Liljana Babinkostova and Marion Scheepers (both BSU math professors) led a discussion of sudoku and counting. Continue reading Sudoku and latin squares