But That’s Not Math!


Our Thursday evening math circle is back (after a longish break). So far there are 4 participants – M, A, K, and E. Indeed, math is what you MAKE of it! (will wear this T-shirt to the next meeting for sure).

I started off with some insight problems from Bright, Brave, Open Minds by Julia Brodsky and Mathematical Circle Diaries, Year 1 by Anna Burago.

“But that’s not math!” protested E, “it has no numbers or things like division or multiplication. It’s just logic stuff.” K and A seemed to be agreeing with E’s statement although A allowed that there might be some logic in math. I didn’t want to go into a long discussion about math and logic. There will be plenty of chances to explore the connection in the upcoming weeks.

We spent most of the time working out the black and white eggs problem. One of the reasons for the longish break between the meetings was our trip to Japan back in late February. P1040756While there, we visited a place called Owakudani – a real volcanic valley with active sulfur vents. When you are there, it is a custom to eat an egg, cooked in sulfur-rich hot spring. The shell of such egg turns black. Suppose we have a basket of eggs. 12 of them are the famous black eggs. 15 are regular white eggs. The basket is covered and we can’t peek in.

P1040763What is the smallest number of eggs we need to take out of the basket to be certain that we got a pair of eggs of the same color? We got a pair of black eggs?

After that we worked on a few similar problems about candies and socks. These problems turned out to be challenging for all except A. At the same time, the proposed answers weren’t just guesses. Everyone worked very hard at explaining how they arrived at the answers.

I wanted to show them the Pollinator Puzzles from MathPickle.  So I skipped the last problem. But here it is:

Maria went to an arcade. She played lots of games and won lots of tickets and now it’s time to exchange those for prizes. Maria sees a cute stuffed dragon toy and wants to know how many tickets she needs to get it. Luckily, there are two arcade employees ready to help her – Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Tweedle Dee says that she needs at least 17 tickets to get the dragon. Tweedle Dum says that she needs at least 16. If exactly one of the two lied, how many tickets does Maria need?

We checked out the beautiful pictures of rafflesia aka the corpse flower. This led to a discussion of why would anyone want to smell it, how close you need to be to smell it and whether it is possible to take a selfie with this flower without smelling it. The final 10 minutes were spent on solving one of the pollinator puzzles.




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