All posts by engagetheirminds

Vi Hart

photo credit: thane via photopin cc
photo credit: thane via photopin cc

I mentioned last week that I would do a post about the Vi Hart videos.  It is probably that many of you already know about Vi Hart, but if this post introduces even one more new person to her genius, then it is worth it.

If you look at Vi Hart’s Wikipedia entry, you will see that she calls herself a “Full-Time Recreational Mathemusician”.  She has her own YouTube Channel, and also partners with Khan Academy to create videos about math.  To put it simply, Vi Hart makes math entertaining.

My students particularly enjoy her Fibonacci series (here is a link to Part 1).  As I mentioned last week, she has become their math hero, and when they designed their own math museums, many of them dedicated rooms to her.

You can learn more about how Vi Hart films her videos by going here:, or watching the video I have embeddeded below.



In yesterday’s post, I stated that I would publish a post about the Vi Hart videos today.  However, I forgot that it is Friday.  Now, that my “Gifts for the Gifted” series is over until next holiday season, I would like to return to my Fun Friday posts.  So, I will “post”pone my Vi Hart post until Monday.

Several years ago, I purchased a book called GridWorks by ThinkFun.  It doesn’t look like ThinkFun still sells this book (although you can buy it for $21 on Amazon), but you can find GridWorks puzzles online, which is almost as good.  If you are looking to purchase something similar to GridWorks, I highly recommend another ThinkFun product, Chocolate Fix.

Both GridWorks and Chocolate Fix have 3X3 grids in which you have to place symbols (or pieces of chocolate) in certain cells based on the visual clues you are given.  In the easy levels, the clues are very explicit.  As you work your way through the levels the game, of course, increases in difficulty.

This link just give you puzzles 1-4.  But you can click here to get over 200 puzzles.  (Scroll to the bottom to get to the beginning.)

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Museum of Mathematics

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I am so jealous of New York City.  They just acquired one more museum, and I’m pretty sure it would be a great destination for a field trip.  The Museum of Mathematics opened in December of 2012.  In this article by Bob Minzesheimer of USA TODAY, it is described as ‘”a kind of playground” and a “work of theater” that plays with geometry, art and algorithms,” according to Tim Nissen, its designer and architect.  Why do we need a Museum of Mathematics in this world?  You can check out this video on USA TODAY’s site in which the director gives 5 reasons for this $15 million project.  If you are like me, and do not live close enough to visit, you can at least enjoy some of the hands-on activities provided on its website.

Reading about this museum inspired me to challenge my 4th grade Gifted and Talented students, who have been studying mathematical masterpieces, to design their own math museums.  They gleefully took on this project, and I am enjoying some of their ideas.  Below you can see a couple of examples of what they have done so far.  They are still in the beginning stages, so try not to judge their spelling!

(You will note the mention of “Vi Hart” in both of the examples.  My students are very impressed with her videos.  I realized, today, that I haven’t posted about them on this blog, so I will probably do a post about them tomorrow.)

map2 museum


Brain Teasers and Lateral Thinking Puzzles

photo credit: MuddyBootsPhoto via photopin cc
photo credit: MuddyBootsPhoto via photopin cc

“Kevin’s mother has three children. The first was called Alpha, the second was called Beta. What was the name of the third? “

I came across this document the other day, published by David Koutsoukis, and thought I would use a couple of these each week for transition times with my students.  During this “crunch time” of the second semester, my students are inundated with state tests and benchmarks.  These puzzles might alleviate a bit of the stress every once in awhile.  My students love riddles, and these are challenging, but short.

Answer to above:  Kevin (since it was his mother, and she only has three children)

Honk if You Love Someone

Here is another video, though it is in a different vein than yesterday’s post.  “Honk if You Love Someone” is a short (around 5 minutes) video produced by Sophia Pink.  On YouTube it is simply described as “One man’s quest to make a city smile.”  Massoud Adibpour is the subject of the film.  He is an engaging young man who lives in Washington, D.C., and came up with a simple plan to brighten the days of strangers.  This is a great inspirational film, which I will be adding to both of my Pinterest boards:  Inspirational Videos for Teachers and Inspirational Videos for Students.  (You can also read about my top 3 favorite videos for students and teachers.)I love Adibpour’s earnest ambition to make the world a better place.  If I were showing this to teachers, I would ask, “What are the simple things we can do each day to make our children smile?”  I recently assigned this video to my students as an Edmodo assignment, and asked them to explain if they thought Adibpour was creating positive, enduring change in the world, or if he is just wasting his time.  I also asked them to tell me what they thought might be good messages to put on Adibpour’s signs.

What would make you smile on your way to work?  Would you have a better day because of it?

You can click here to view the video if the embedded version does not play:


Welcome back, everyone!  In my first post for 2013, I present to you a short animation that has a surprising ending.  This would be a great video to present to your students when talking about Multiple Perspectives, one of Sandra Kaplan’s areas of Depth and Complexity.  It could also be a fun story starter or creative writing exercise.  You might ask the students to think about some of these questions:

What if our world is a BumbleVille?  How would we know if it is or isn’t?

Would you want to live in BumbleVille?

How is BumbleVille different than your own community?

How would someone go about leaving BumbleVille?

What would you do if you discovered a BumbleVille?

If you are unable to view the embedded video below, you can find “BumbleVille”, produced by The STUDIO, at this link:

UPDATE 12/6/17: For an incredible STEAM project that you can use with this lesson, check out the immensely creative Tricia Fuglestad’s post here!  Also, here is a writing/augmented reality lesson that we did after watching the video.

BumbleVille from The STUDIO on Vimeo.