My Own Workshops

I gave only two workshops this year; Weaving Paper Polyhedra was not offered.  But the two workshops I gave had some interesting moments.

210 SUUSImatics

This workshop will show that mathematics is fun, beautiful, and at times uncertain, using as examples fractals, fibonacci numbers, magic and Latin squares, paradoxes, and examples from SUUSI itself, such as the mathematics behind contra dancing, and other topics. This workshop includes both lecture and participatory exercises.

Recommended Reading: mathematics.htm

Jim Blowers earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics at Northwestern University in 1972. He has always approached mathematics as something that is fun to do and would like to deliver some of that enthusiasm to others.

The topics I covered this year were:

1. The Monty Hall problem.
2. The second Three Hats problem
3. Polytopes (I showed the class how to weave polyhedra, thus bringing part of that workshop into this one)
4. Fractals
5. The Unexpected Math Quiz (no, there are no quizzes at SUUSI. I simply explain part of life at Virginia Tech when SUUSI is not around.)
6. Undecidable Propositions; there is no end to mathematics.

Three of the topics were quiz-show type topics; maybe I should create a workshop called "SUUSI or consequences", or something like that. Some of the participants caught on with the Three Hats problem, and they all were interested in the fantastic designs that fractals produce. I have proposed offering this workshop next year.

211 Stories of the Sky

The night sky has been a source of inspiration for the telling of stories. This workshop will feature stories from Greek, Roman, Native American, Australian aborigine, and Oriental mythology. Participants will have a chance to construct star stories of their own.

Recommended Reading: The New Patterns in the Sky by Julius Staal McDonald and Woodward, Blacksburg, VA

Jim Blowers has a PhD in Mathematics and much experience and interest in astronomy, including the photography of two eclipses and several comets, and an interest in the tales that have been written about the sky.

This year I introduced some standard astronomy as well as mythology. The result turned out well, although it seemed disjointed in places. I pointed out such things as that the reason why there is a Lost Pleiad in the Pleiades is that one of the stars in the Pleiades, Pleione, is a variable. I presented the usual stories about Perseus and Andromeda, the Native American Bear Hunt, Coyote, and the Australian aborigine fishing trip, and others. I have proposed offering the workshop next year. I have also proposed offering an astronomy workshop and Weaving Paper Polyhedra. So get out your construction paper and scissors and prepare to make some pretty things for the Yuletide tree.

Jim Blowers

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