Hall Middle School Math Festival Dec 1, 2023

We hope you enjoyed the festival! We would like to thank the following people for their help today.

  • Dr. Toni Brown, principal of Hall Middle School, and the mathematics teachers, especially Katie Tobes, for providing facilities and other support, and of course, giving up their math classes so that their students could attend the festival.
  • The USF Math Circles class (math 314) under the supervision of Professor Sam Roven, in particular his students Emelia Baumann, Eleanor Christman, Frances Grout, Daniel Matthews, and Chloe Pine
  • High school students Madhava Brahmandan and Emily Marton
  • Molly Roven
  • The continuing inspiration of the National Museum of Mathematics
  • Master teacher Henri Picciotto’s amazing body of work
  • Last but not least, the wonderful students of Hall Middle School!

Here is the a handout which describes some of the activities. The table below has handouts and links with more information, including some spoilers.

More information about the activities

topic spoilers!
Geometric Puzzles To learn more about pentominoes and pattern blocks, please check out Henri Picciotto’s amazing resources. In particular, he has many lovely pictures showing different dodecagon tilings, and has lots of resources about pentominoes. There is a massive literature about the SOMA cube, which was invented by the Danish scientist Piet Hein. Here is a reprint of a 1961 article about it written for Scientific American by Martin Gardner, perhaps the greatest mathematical expositor in history.
Games of little or no chance This handout summarizes the three games and their solutions. There is a vast literature about games of this kind. Martin Gardner of course has discussed it, and the technical name for Puppies and Kittens is Wythoff’s Nim.
Mathematical magic for muggles Here are brief explanations of the tricks. There are many great books about this subject, for example by Graham and Diaconis and also by Colm Mulcahy.
The cautious driver’s maze Here is the solution to this rather difficult maze. This is one of many wonderful activities created by the National Museum of Mathematics. If you cannot visit the museum in person, visit their gift shop online!
Mathematical origami Here is Molly Roven’s handout, and here is just one of many great links about mathematical origami. We also recommend the book Project Origami by Thomas Hull.
Rational tangles Here is a neat video of Tom Davis teaching teachers about rational tangles. Visit his website for tons of great resources, including a nice paper about rational tangles.
Minimal surfaces with soap films There are many nice videos and articles; here is one of the clearest. To make your own bubble solution use Dawn dishwashing liquid, glycerin, and water in the ratio 1:1:8.