Shapes have fascinated humans since the beginning of time. The polyhedra, or solid shapes with flat polygonal faces, is one of such shapes. One of the most appealing types of polyhedra is the icosahedron, most likely due to its high degree of symmetry. In the image above, you can see that the view from the…

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# Category: Featured

## In the footsteps of Archimedes: celebrating Pi day

Nowadays, thanks to modern day computers, we have instant access to the approximation of π (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter) to any degree of accuracy. But back in antiquity, getting a good approximation of π was elusive and difficult. Over 2000 ago, the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes derived an accurate approximation of π using…

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## Bagels, pretzels… cubical frames?

This year’s Nobel Prize in physics brought into the limelight the subject of **topology**, which studies the property of figures that remain unchanged under stretching and twisting, as long as there is no tearing. As a member of the Nobel Prize committee explained in this article, a topologist is concerned with distinguishing a Swedish pretzel from a bagel not due to their taste differences, but due to the fact that a pretzel has two holes and a bagel has one. To a topologist, the pretzel is a surface of genus 2, and a bagel is a surface of genus 1, where the genus number simply corresponds to a number of holes….

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## Math Lesson from the Olympic Games

Among the myriad math lessons offered to us by the Olympic Games, here’s one involving just the rings. I recently challenged myself to model the rings using Geometiles, and came up with what you see against the background of the UCSD Track and Field Stadium. When Susan Lopez of LopezLandLearners saw this picture, she realized that it would make a great estimation problem: *How many triangles and squares does it take to make one of these rings, just by looking at it?* What a great way to start children thinking about estimates….

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