S.T.E.A.M. Part IV: Mathematics and Logic

Math & Logic

As Numb3rs illustrates, if you want to understand the world…study math and logic (and art and literature and geography and history and physics). The internet has made math more accessible and a lot more fun. In some ways, math is the puzzle field and provides an infinite variety of activities and challenges. We have provided some links to some of the more interesting math sites we have found online. Not surprising, there is a tremendous amount of overlap with the section on Science

We went looking for the coolest math sites we could find. As with the other creative play subjects, if you know a site we should include, email us and we’ll add it to the collection

General Math Sites

  • Cool Math for Kids The site self-identifies as an “amusement park of math, games, and more,” and it does a pretty good job of living up to the description. Even for kids and adults who may have an aversion towards math (we are prime examples), there The site not only includes some pretty lesson materials, it also includes some excellent puzzles and logic games.
  • Cyberchase. Public Broadcasting (PBS). We are PBS fans anyway, but PBS does more than just television shows. They produce some great sites for kids, For those of you unfamiliar with Cyberchase, it is a mathematics-based show (and website) for kids from 8 to 12, including eight seasons of full episodes. Their project pages and puzzles include all sorts of materials you can download, print, and use, including a great recipe for ice cream (measurement is math). This is also a terrific site for working with kids who are “math adverse.”
  • Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles. Okay, we admit it. We are puzzle and game enthusiasts and this site has a terrific collection of games and puzzles covering most of the major areas of math. Most of the materials are probably better suited to kids beyond the age of 13, but you may be able to modify some of them for kids who are slightly younger.
  • Math Cats. Our cats are not quite up to the task, even with this cools site, but if they were equal to the challenge, we would start them here. Math Cats is a good site for introducing math to kids and making math accessible even to kids who may have trouble with math in school. We are personally fond of the math art pages.
  • Math Hunt. Brought to you from the folks from Scholastic (the same company that published Harry Potter). Math hunt doesn’t limit itself to math only, it also includes social studies and science into some very cool internet-based scavenger hunts. The hunts are based on math problems and are a terrific way to spend a rainy afternoon. For example, their math hunt for ancient civilizations involves solving ancient mathematic riddles, learning about thermal tube worms (which until I tried one of the scavanger hunts, I had no idea existed) and exploring Rome, Greece, and Egypt (along with a whole bunch of other sites). This site is incredibly cool.
  • Radar’s NumberNut.com. This site covers from basic to advanced math topics. The explanations are clear and straight forward, and there are enough activities to keep most kids busy for quite some time. This is actually a pretty good starting spot for exploring a wide range of math topics.

Game Theory & Decision-Making

Game Theory is the mathematical study of decision-making. Why do people make the decisions they make? Not surprising, someone (or a number of someones) came up with a series of mathematical formulas and methods for understanding and analyzing the decision-making process. Game Theory does require some knowledge of algebra, but there are some terrific activities out there that will not only help kids understand something about game theory, but also may help them to understand that algebra is a type of mathematics they will use beyond the classroom.

  • Game Theory (kids.net.au). Leave it to the Australians to come up with a fairly clear explanation of game theory (good for kids and adults). If you are not familiar with the kids.ne.au site, it is well worth your time to explore. We especially like the list of kid safe websites.
  • Brain-POP. Wicked cool curriculum. It works both in the traditional classroom and for homeschoolers. Their section on mathematics, including game theory, is especially good and fits with the common core.

Math and the World Outside (Practical Math and the Marketplace)

A few months ago, while sorting through a couple of boxes of donated books to Whistle Stop Books, we cam across a mathematics textbook fro 1895. The one book covered grades 1 through 6th (or maybe a bit more) and certainly illustrated the bent of public educations: money, calculating interest, and so on. Lots of word problems, lots of examples of how to use math beyond the classroom. The narrowness of the focus, however surprised us and put the  history and purpose of public education in perspective. That said, there is some use for understanding the mathematics of consumerism, space, and distance. Here are a few resources for parents (and teachers) to help explain the practical applications of mathematics… 

  • Practical Money Skills. While we are not fans of credit cards, they are a part of everyday life these days–judging from the number of our customers who do not carry cash or a checkbook. The folks at Visa put together some pretty good lessen plans and games to teach kids (K-12, college, and special needs) about money, budgeting, saving, credit, and loans. The site includes a lot of resources, including an impressive number of special calculators.

Share This: