# Posts tagged Moebius Noodles

## Math Goggles #8 – Make a Puzzle

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This week’s challenge is a bit late, but better late than never. And the reason it’s late is because I was too busy playing  exploring math with my son’s Legos. Anyway, are you ready for this week’s Math Goggles Challenge? If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, then here’s a helpful “what’s this all about” post.

This week, let’s work on some math and logic puzzles. If you do not like or avoid such puzzles because they make you feel anxious, nervous, stressed, harassed, tricked, lost, confused, insecure or otherwise remind you of a pop-quiz the day after you didn’t do your homework, relax. It’s not going to be like this. In fact, this challenge is not about solving puzzles (but if you do, that’s perfectly fine).

Here’s what to do this week. Find a math and logic puzzle that you’ve not seen or solved before. Now, build it with whatever it is you have handy – cardboard, wrapping paper and glue; modeling clay; marshmallows and toothpicks; building blocks. You might like the challenge of recreating a pen-and-paper puzzle with 3-dimensional objects. Or you might like the idea of taking a 3D puzzle and drawing it.

I got the idea for this week’s Challenge from MathFour’s 5-Room Puzzle post. I thought it’d be interesting to turn this puzzle into a little Lego adventure for my child. And so I sat down to build it. Admittedly, I didn’t do a very good job copying the puzzle exactly. But here’s what did happen. As I was building the puzzle, snapping Legos together, it occurred to me how I could check whether the puzzle I built had a solution. And that was a huge “AHA!” moment, I tell you and it felt great too!

So there you go. Find a puzzle that looks interesting, build it and concentrate on the process of building instead of on solving it. Enjoy!

## Math Goggles #5 – From Cleanliness to Mathyness

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What’s washing dishes got to do with math? The answer is in this week’s Math Goggles. Oh, and you get a chance to get your home cleaner and mathy-er. If you are new to Math Goggles and not sure what to do and why do it, check out this page first.

Ever since my dishwasher broke, I’ve been washing a whole lot of dishes. Doing dishes by hand is not especially complicated and leaves plenty of time for thinking about math and other things. But don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about counting dishes, estimating the per-plate cost of detergent or calculating the volume of water in the sink given the rate of inflow and outflow. What I was thinking about was one of the games in our upcoming book, the game we call Silly Robot. Particularly, I imagined creating an algorithm for a robot to wash my dishes.

My algorithm started with the robot checking whether there were any dishes in the sink. If no, it’d stand by or, ideally, switch to a different chore. If yes, then it would turn water on. Then it would soap up the scrubby and pick up the first dirty plate. Scrub, rinse, check, put on a drying rack. Repeat until the sink is empty.

Are those the smallest steps that my dish-washing algorithm can be broken into? Of course, not. Next time I do a sink-full of dishes, I’ll work on refining it. Besides, I might be able to re-use parts of this dish washing algorithm for another one of my “I wish I had a robot that would do this for me” dreams – doing laundry.

In the mean time, I invite you to join me. Think of a household task you do a lot and wouldn’t mind giving it to a robot. Next time you do it, pretend you are creating an algorithm for it. So what’s your robot going to help you with?

## Math is Not a Worksheet

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Some time ago Maria and I had a chance to present the Moebius Noodles project at an Open Source/Creative Commons event hosted by Red Hat. As we tried to distill our big ideas into a 3-minute presentation, we had to choose the most important points to cover. They are

• In many ways, young kids already are mathematicians.
• Beautiful mathematical adventures are all around us.
• Math is not a worksheet.
• Freeing ideas and experiences (i.e. through Creative Commons licensing) is critical for success.

Want details? Check out a video of our presentation.

If you are developing, teaching, or playing rich early math games, we want to hear from you!

P.S. Can you tell this was my first public presentation?

## Math Goggles #1 – Math-y Librarian

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It’s time to put on the Math Goggles (not sure what these are? Head over here to find out). This week’s Math Goggles challenge is to visit a library. Once there, start looking around for math-y stuff. Once you find it, snap a picture of it. Keep the picture private or share it with us. Remember, there are no wrong answers here and anything goes.

I wasn’t going to do a library challenge for a few weeks except a friend told me about this awesome brand-new university library that was practically a walking distance from me. And they had a BookBot that could find any of the 1.8 million books and get it to you in under 5 minutes. How could I NOT go?!

The BookBot and the stacks were impressive, made me think of all sorts of math, including algorithms, estimations, and perspective. But what really made me excited were the arm-chairs! This library has a ton of seating options (speaking of estimations), from ottomans and benches to stools and arm-chairs. So check out my math finds (actually, my son found most of them and pointed them out; I was the one who put them in order and took pictures):

Ok, so this is a single square ottoman. And four of them are put together to form… another 2×2 square.

On another square ottoman the upholstery pattern was made up of 16 smaller squares and 9 buttons!

1×1 = 12 = 1

2×2 = 22 = 4

3×3 = 32 = 9

4×4 = 42 = 16

These are all square numbers! I was all set to go look for the next square number (25), but got distracted by this awesome chair. My excuse for lounging in it is it’s my 0×0 = 02 = 0.

And now it’s your turn to look for math at a library. Put on your Math Goggles and be a Math-y Librarian this week!

## Snowflakes! Newsletter December 15, 2012

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Welcome to adventurous math for the playground crowd! I am Moby Snoodles, and I love to hear from you at moby@moebiusnoodles.com

## Book News

This week, we attended the Triangle Creative Commons mini-conference, celebrating ten years of CC sharing. We met some wonderful people who work in very interesting CC-licensed projects – some of them are joining our math adventures! Meanwhile, here are our slides.

## Special snowflakes!

Happy holidays! Make some mathy snowflakes with us and our friends. There is a snowflake chapter in the Moebius Noodles book, after all. Here is an excerpt with several smart mini-games for snowflake math.

Surprise family and friends with snowflakes made out of their names, or holiday wish words – love, happiness, math. Here is online software called Special Snowflake that can help you plan a paper project, or make an animated name snowflake for your site. Do you see my name in the snowflake below?

Whenever you do math, use words and images that are special for your child. Another take on this idea is to make snowflakes about favorite games, characters and other beloved roleplaying images. Sue VanHattum of Math Mama Writes sent us this beautiful example at Anthony Herrera Designs. Do you recognize this popular fantasy universe?

## Sharing

You are welcome to share the contents of this newsletter online or in print. You can also remix and tweak anything here as you wish, as long as you share your creations on the same terms. Please credit MoebiusNoodles.com

More formally, we distribute all Moebius Noodles content under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license: CC BY-NC-SA

Talk to you again on January 15th – next year!

Moby Snoodles, aka Dr. Maria Droujkova

## Cover art & glossary: Newsletter November 30, 2012

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Welcome to adventurous math for the playground crowd! I am Moby Snoodles, and I love to hear from you at moby@moebiusnoodles.com

## Book news

The book cover is almost ready! Do you like it? What would you change?

This week, we’ve been working on a glossary of main terms. We wanted each definition…

• Mathematically correct
• Accessible to math-anxious people
• Engaging for mathy people
• To have a clear example
• To have a clear counter-example
This is surprisingly challenging! We like how our definitions turn out, though. Check out these examples.

Function
Functions are machines that convert values to other values, or find correspondences between values. Function machines work by rules people make up. The starting values are called input. The converted or corresponding values are called output. The rule must find a single output for each input. Your stove is a function machine: it starts with the input of raw eggs, milk and spices, and makes the output of an omelet. The fantasy machine that starts with the same input and makes either omelets or live chickens is not a function.

Inverse Function
What a function does, the inverse will undo. Of course, some deeds cannot be undone. The function of “baby drops a cup of grapes on the floor” has an inverse, “parental unit crawls around, searching for grapes and putting them back into the cup”. On the other hand, the function of “drop a cup of orange juice on the floor” and the function “break an egg for an omelet” do not have inverses.

Cycle
Cycles are sequences of objects or series of operations that repeat. For example, “winter, spring, summer, autumn” is the cycle of seasons that repeats every year. There are cyclic stories and songs, like “99 bottles of beer.” Many household tasks are cyclic, such as washing dishes – “lather, rinse, repeat.” Cycles relate to recursion and iteration. Not all infinite sequences have cycles; for example, there are no cycles in the digits of Pi.

The mindmap for the glossary helps to see relationships between ideas. And it drives home the message that math is not linear.

## Sharing

You are welcome to share the contents of this newsletter online or in print. You can also remix and tweak anything here as you wish, as long as you share your creations on the same terms. Please credit MoebiusNoodles.com

More formally, we distribute all Moebius Noodles content under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license: CC BY-NC-SA

Talk to you again on December 15th!

Moby Snoodles, aka Dr. Maria Droujkova

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Welcome to adventurous math for the playground crowd! I am Moby Snoodles, and I love to hear from you at moby@moebiusnoodles.com

## Next book news!

Every November, hundreds of thousand of people play a game called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The rules are simple: you need to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. This year, while the first Moebius Noodles book is being prepared for production, Dr. Maria Droujkova is writing about me, Moby Snoodles! And of course, about other people of the ocean: Asym the dolphin,  Inte the turtle, Nautilus the nautilus and so on. You can see graphs of Maria’s progress at the site – about half-done as of this writing!

Humans who love math will recognize some of their favorite jokes, math art, or just beautiful definitions, problems and theorems. After all, calculus is as relevant on the ocean planet as it is on Earth. So far, about half of the stories are original and the other half existing calculus favorites, retold in ways accessible to young children. The idea is to read the book out loud to kids, or to use it for storytelling and roleplay.

For example, the story we are about to share is inspired by the article by Donald Byrd, called “Infinite Bottles of Beer: A cantorial approach to Cantorian arithmetic and other mathematical melodies“. A shorter version was published in Math Horizons.

## Moby Snoodles and Brilliant Snails on the Wall

Moby Snoodles and Asym the dolphin were not moving very fast at all. That was because they were trying to swim backwards. Whales and dolphins could back up from something, of course. So Moby and Asym did the same thing many times in a row. They backed up, and then backed up again.
- I could do it forever and ever and ever! – said Asym the dolphin happily.
- Ummm, yes you could, – agreed Moby.
Asym liked things that went on and on and on. But Moby liked to move fast.

They were passing by the base of the Smooth Cliff. Moby noticed several snails who had climbed halfway up it. The sun was shining bright through the water. The shells were catching the sun, looking much brighter than usual. Moby wanted Asym to look. Maybe then they could stop swimming backwards.

- Look, five brilliant snails on the wall! – said Moby
- Five brilliant snails? – asked Asym absent-mindedly.

They stopped and looked for a while. The snails started to pull their soft parts inside their shells. Usually, snails pulled into shells very fast, when a sudden worry struck them. These snails were moving rather slowly.

- What if a snail should happen to fall? – asked Asym.
Moby thought Asym had a point. The Smooth Cliff was very smooth. When less and less of a snail’s foot was left to hold on, the snail was more and more likely to fall.
- If a snail should happen to fall, there will be four snails on the wall! – said Moby.
Asym laughed. The phrase did seem silly and funny somehow!

This was exactly what happened next. One of the snails lost the balance on the Smooth Cliff. The snail pulled all the soft parts into the brilliant shell. Then the snail slowly fell to the floor, spinning around and around. Whee! When the snail got closer, Moby recognized the patterns on the shell.
- Hello there, Tegra! – said Moby.
-*Good day to you. What are you up to?* – replied Tegra the snail. Tegra talked by touching Moby’s flipper. Asym watched Tegra’s tentacles move, so Asym could understand, too.
- We are learning to swim backwards! – said Asym.
- We are watching you on the wall! And when we talked about it, our words came out funny. – said Moby.
- *Tell me!* – asked Tegra.

So Moby collected all the words together. That is, all the words Moby could remember.

Five brilliant snails on the wall,
Five brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
Four brilliant snails on the wall!
- *Ha-ha-ha!* – said Tegra.
Moby wondered how snails laughed when they were by themselves. Maybe they just thought, “Ha-ha-ha”?

Asym was still watching the snails on the wall. They kept pulling their soft parts into their shells slowly.
- That snail on the left looks unsteady! – said Asym.
- Yay! Our funny words work with four snails, too!

Four brilliant snails on the wall,
Four brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
Three brilliant snails on the wall!

This is exactly what happened next. The snail on the left lost the balancel and fell slowly, spinning around and around. When the snail was on the floor, the soft parts came out again. The snail said *Hi* to Moby and Asym, and joined them in watching the wall. Moby wanted to share the funny words with the new snail. But now they had to be changed again! Would it work? Moby tried.

Three brilliant snails on the wall,
Three brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
Two brilliant snails on the wall!

- Yay! The funny words keep working! – said Moby.
Another snail fell off and joined them. Moby told the new snail their funny words. Of course, Moby started from two snails this time.

- This won’t last forever, – said Asym the dolphin sadly. – What will you do when there is just one snail on the wall?
- *I know what us snails will do! We will all climb back halfway up the Smooth Cliff. Then we will play the game again.* – said Tegra the snail.

Moby tried to make up funny words to describe this. What made the words funny? Moby decided it was the sameness of their ends.

One brilliant snail on the wall,
One brilliant snail,
If that snail should happen to fall,
All the snails climb back up the wall!

Five brilliant snails on the wall,
Five brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
Four brilliant snails on the wall!

Moby kept on talking and talking. The snails kept on playing and playing. Asym kept on thinking and thinking.
- This does last forever and ever and ever! – finally said Asym.
But nothing lasted forever. Just as Asym said this, three of the snails said they were tired, and left. Asym was a little worried. But Tegra and another snail kept playing.

Two brilliant snails on the wall,
Two brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
One brilliant snail on the wall!

One brilliant snail on the wall,
One brilliant snail,
If that snail should happen to fall,
Both the snails climb back up the wall!

Two brilliant snails on the wall…

- What if another snail went home? – worried Asym.
- I think I can make it work just for Tegra! – replied Moby proudly.

Brilliant Tegra the snail on the wall,
Brilliant Tegra the snail,
If Tegra the snail should fall,
Tegra climbs back up up the wall!

Brilliant Tegra the snail on the wall…

- *I like the part where I am brilliant.* – said Tegra.
- You know what would be nice? If the snails went on forever and ever and ever, and never ran out! – said Asym the dolphin dreamily. – Can you make funny words about that?
- I will try! – replied Moby.

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall…
(Moby thought and thought. Asym and Tegra waited and waited.)
Infinite brilliant snails on the wall! – finally said Moby, and continued:

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If a snail should happen to fall,
Infinite brilliant snails on the wall!

- You don’t have to change anything for infinite snails. – noticed Asym.
- *Just like the story when there is only me on the wall!* – added Tegra the snail.
- *Five!*
- Check this out!

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If five snails should happen to fall,
Infinite brilliant snails on the wall!

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall…

- Well, my favorite number is infinity! – said Asym.
- I don’t think infinity is a number. – replied Moby. Asym looked a bit sad about that, so Moby added. – But I think it will work just the same as a number!
- *What do you mean, the same?* – asked Tegra the snail.

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If infinite snails should happen to fall,
Infinite brilliant snails on the wall!

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall…

- Sounds about right. – said Asym the dolphin happily.
- *Wait, no! I think this one should go like my story!* – said Tegra the snail.
- What do you mean? – asked Asym.
- *I mean everybody falls, and then there are nobody on the wall, and then everybody climbs again.* – explained Tegra.

Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If infinite snails should happen to fall,
All the snails climb back up the wall!

- What do you think, Moby? – asked Asym.
Moby thought and thought. Asym waited and waited. Finally, Moby replied.
Infinite brilliant snails on the wall,
Infinite brilliant snails,
If infinite snails should happen to fall,
Three brilliant snails on the wall!

- *What?* Why? – asked Tegra and Asym at once.
- Because three is my favorite number! – explained Moby happily.

## Sharing

You are welcome to share the contents of this newsletter online or in print. You can also remix and tweak anything here as you wish, as long as you share your creations on the same terms. Please credit MoebiusNoodles.com

More formally, we distribute all Moebius Noodles content under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license: CC BY-NC-SA

Talk to you again on November 30th!

Moby Snoodles, aka Dr. Maria Droujkova

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