Archive for the ‘Math’ Category
Remember the game Mouse Trap? For those of you not familiar with it, Mouse Trap is a board game in which players build a contraption, using various tools and materials, in order to capture a toy mouse on the run. Players often build creative, elaborate traps that operate in various stages, with each distinct stage setting off a another. The game is based on the concept behind Rube-Goldberg machines, devices that perform a very simple task but require an elaborate chain reaction to operate between start and finish. Just like in Rube-Goldberg machines, the value of Mouse Trap is very much in the journey, not the destination.
Now, imagine an even larger version of this game, without the mouse. This is the MIT Museum’s annual Friday After Thanksgiving: Chain Reaction event. Aptly shortened to F.A.T. for the Friday After Thanksgiving, the event is an innovative way to get families out and about after Thursday night’s collective feasting. This year, the Chain Reaction took place at the Rockwell Cage Gymnasium on MIT’s campus and was attended by approximately 2,000 people.
Here’s how it works. Each year, the MIT Museum invites its community to join the event as spectators or participants. Participants and teams build individual sections of a larger chain reaction. The aim is to be as creative as possible, and believe me when I say that participants take this creative license very seriously. Upon strolling around the basketball court-sized area set aside for the entire machine, I spotted everything from action figures, straws, water balloons, Arduino robots, monkey wrenches, bicycle wheels, legos, Daleks, and yes–even mouse traps.
Because the event is open to anybody and everybody, participants every year range from Girl Scout troops to artists and engineers, from MIT clubs to high schools and family teams. Teams have also come from as far away as Michigan and California to contribute. This year, artist/inventor Arthur Ganson and local artist/MIT alumnus Jeff Lieberman both emceed the event.
The F.A.T. Chain Reaction event is not only a creative way to get the family together during the Thanksgiving holiday season, but it’s also an opportunity for kids (ages one to ninety-two) to engage and experiment with the basics of engineering. Who knows? Perhaps participating could set off a chain reaction that results in even more collaborative citizen science in your future.
You can view a live video of the 2012 Chain Reaction below (2013 video forthcoming):
Lily Bui is the Executive Editor of SciStarter and holds dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine. She has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. She currently works in public media at WGBH-TV and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Boston, MA. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns. Follow @dangerbui.
Dig into this serving of Thanksgiving projects with your friends and family!
While you’re waiting for the food to cook, explore the Galapagos with Darwin for a Day! Explore the Galapagos Islands through Google Street View and document its unique plants and animals. Data will be shared with the iNaturalist community, and the Charles Darwin Foundation, and will contribute to research of the Galapagos Islands. Get started!
Help researchers take census of winter Monarch butterflies. Count Monarchs in colonies, during the mornings around Thanksgiving. Get started!
Help monitor winter bird populations in Western states. Count birds within a 15-foot area, anywhere in the Western states, for one hour on Thanksgiving Day. Get started!
Ready for dessert? How about some Pi? Test your own number sense, or download this software and adapt it for your own research or educational purposes. Get started!
Walk off that big meal while improving the health of your local beach. This app will allow you to check in when you find trash on our coastlines and waterways. Get started!
Have you joined more than one citizen science project? FREE SciStarter t-shirt for the first 25 eligible people who email us to participate in a 15-minute phone survey! We want to talk to people who have joined more than one citizen science project so we can learn from their experiences and improve our community services. Email Carolyn@SciStarter.com if you’d like to participate.
We are partnering up with WHYY-a National Public Radio station-to help share stories about citizen science projects and people in PA, NJ and DE. If you have a story to share, let us know! Contact Lily@SciStarter.com
If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, email email@example.com
Which citizen science projects in our Project Finder were the most visited in 2010? Check out the top 10! Is your favorite on this list? If not, tell us about your favorite citizen science project(s) on your very own (free) member blog!
7. Moon Zoo
|Moon Zoo invites you to help astronomers count and analyze craters and boulders on the surface of the moon. You will examine images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which show the lunar surface in remarkable detail, including features as small as about one and a half feet across. While exploring the lunar surface, who knows what else you might find.|
|Tech musician Stephen Hobley’s laser harp was the most popular project in our Project Finder. After building your laser harp, you’ll coax out the computer-generated sounds by waving your hands to break the light beams and change their lengths. We first found out about Stephone’s harp in recent issue of Make magazine that was devoted to build-them-yourself, high-tech musical instruments. Sounds awesome, huh?|
If you ever needed convincing that math is beautiful, this movie by Spanish graphic animator Cristóbal Vila will do the trick.
Set to a haunting piece by Belgian minimalist composer Wim Mertens, “Nature by Numbers” brings to life some of the fundamental math concepts that connect art and nature. Vila starts his exploration with the Fibonacci sequence, a well-known series of numbers that starts with zero, then one, then the sum of each of the previous two numbers (0 + 1 = 1; 1 + 1 = 2; 1 + 2 = 3, and so on). From there, he shows how the Fibonacci sequence gives birth to natural shapes such as the spiral, illustrates the harmonious proportions produced by the Golden Ratio, and uses sunflowers and insect wings to demonstrate the Golden Angle and Voroni Tessellations.
Fortunately, he also provides an explanation of the concepts behind the beauty. It’s enough to make you sign up for a calculus class.