WPI Mathematical Sciences Department

Mathematics for Kids

Puzzles, Problems, Mazes and Activities

Professor William J. Martin and helpers
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

WPI Mathematical Sciences Department

IMPORTANT: No, never mind. Nothing here is really important. It's just fun.

We have a lot of fun with mathematics. So why not collect the fun stuff in one place?

At WPI, math is everywhere. There are summer camps each year. These wonderful experiences -- Frontiers/Strive and Camp Reach are run by the Morgan Learning Center and its director Dr. Chrysanthe Demetry.

WPI's Pre-Collegiate Outreach Office is run by Dr. Martha Cyr and offers an exciting suite of programs for kids.

The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers a graduate program aimed at teachers called the Mathematics for Educators Masters degree (MME). But the department also offers an annual event for high school kids. The WPI Invitational Mathematics Meet competition occurs mid-October of each year.

The icosahedron can be built from three Golden Rectangles (one in each of the xy-, xz-, and yz-planes) whose edges form a famous shape in knot theory called the Borromean rings.

What this page offers

This Page is Not Part of Any of the Above. This page is Bill Martin's page for teenagers who like math. (Well, I hope it will also catch the interest of some kids who are not sure whether they like math.) The views represented here are my own; they do not reflect the views of WPI, my employer.

Here are the materials available so far on this page:

  • Snowflakes are amazing for their symmetry and also for their physics. How is it that the 104.5 degree angle between the bonds in the molecule engender the formation of hexagonal crystals? What angles are occurring and what is going on in the third dimension?

    We often have young kids explore the hexagonal symmetry by folding paper and making idealized snowflakes. It might be an interesting science project to instead show them photographs of real snowflakes and see how the kids can copy these shapes.

    How much comes from symmetry? How much snipping with scissors must be done after the paper is unfolded? And what factors might cause a snowflake to lose its symmetry at these finer levels? What angles appear along the "spokes" of the snowflake? Are they all multiples of 60 degrees?

  • I am just starting to collect some material on bubbles!
  • NASA's Space Math III resource includes pre-packaged lessons for teachers in Grades 9-12, such as this: Correcting Bad Data Using Parity Bits
Play (Other content from the web and news sites)
Image from INSIDER
    Summers Links to some great summer programs for high school students who want to explore mathematics:
    • HCSSiM, the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics
    • MathiLy at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania
    • PROMYS, the Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists, at Boston University
    Parents and Teachers While there is no clear distinction between the above lists of links and this one, the following items are aimed at math-lovers who want to coordinate activities for kids.
    • ACME Klein bottle not only offers some precious gifts to purchase for families, friends and teachers, but also offers a very entertaining web page. (Sorry that my text is not nearly as clever.)
    • This is MEGA-Mathematics!, a rather old but inspiring guide book (134 pages) on mathematics and how to engage children in activities related to math and theoretical computer science. I have used ideas from this book in local elementary schools.