Math and Summer Don’t Mix

Sometime things go right, and sometimes things go very wrong.

This week in camp, I had 12 – 14 year olds and since this is the oldest age of camper I have ever had, I decided to do something challenging that would test their teamwork and maturity. With that in mind, and with the hope of somehow incorporating my enjoyment of math, I decided to build a geodesic dome with them.

If you’ve ever been to a playground with a spherical climbing structure made out of triangles, you know what a geodesic dome is.

We attempted to build one using newspaper, tape and staples.

It was supposed to look like this.

IMG_4393Alas, whether it was due to the newspaper not being rolled tight enough, or the kids not being patient enough, or me being too optimistic in wanting to do math in summer camp… Our geodesic dome ended up look like this.

geodesic

I’m just going to go right out and admit that the project was a complete disaster.

Fortunately, my campers didn’t hate me after, and good naturedly poked fun of me for making them work on it for several hours.

I guess I’d better stick to doing camp games and activities for the summer, and leave the math for September. Speaking of, I’m super excited to say that I’ll be embarking on a research project in the upcoming school year.

Any time I try to summarize the research for my friends, they get bored and pretend to listen while tuning my excited “math-talk” out.

But… Seeing as you’ve already read thus far, I figure you find me interesting enough to bare through a paragraph or two about my research.

This is a part of hexagonal or “honeycomb” lattice.

honeycomb lattice

Now imagine this picture but infinite.

Imagine you take a counter and place it on some hexagon. Then you randomly move it one space into a surrounding hexagon, and you keep doing that a set number of times. But you can’t move the counter into hexagons that you’ve already been on.

Question is… How many possible combinations of moves can you make if you move the counter say 10 times. What about a 100? 1000?

That’s the core of it. Although while discussing the problem with my prof, a lot of other interesting questions came up.

I’m sort of nervous and excited for this research. Excited for obvious reasons (duh I’m a dork) and nervous because I don’t want to disappoint myself or my prof. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time like I did with the geodesic dome.

Here’s to hoping it all works out.

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