Magazine article Curriculum Review

Fun Mathematics Anyone Can Do

Magazine article Curriculum Review

Fun Mathematics Anyone Can Do

Article excerpt

Grades 5 and up

Vi Hart, a self-dubbed "recreational mathemusician," wants nothing more than to make math cool. Hart had few professional prospects, as mathemusicians are not in high demand, but her career took off in November 2010 when she posted a video on YouTube.

The video is of her doodling in math class, recorded in such a way that the viewer sees it as if he or she was drawing. "I want a real first-person view," she said, "because I want people to feel they can do this. People can. It's mathematics that anyone can do."

Hart has a distaste for the way math is traditionally taught in school and a life-long appreciation of art, which is how her math doodle came about. The video opens with her writing in a notebook, ostensibly in class: "O.K., let's say you're me and you're in math class, you're supposed to be learning about exponential functions, but you're having trouble caring about exponential functions because unfortunately your math class is probably not terribly engaging." She then goes on to talk about Hercules and the mythical Hydra, who grows two new heads where one is chopped off (a binary tree); as well as a fractal pattern that, she assures the watcher, is just doodling--not math.

Hart comes from a mathematical family--her father is an artist whose work consisted frequently of geometric sculptures and a former professor of computer science at Stony Brook University (NY). He is currently chief of content at the soon-to-be-open Museum of Mathematics in New York City. …

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