Amazingly and improbably, New York City has opened a museum I wouldn't have predicted, The Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). Now, much can come to mind when one pictures a museum dedicated to mathematics. Math is fascinating, but if not presented in the right way, a museum of mathematics could be painfully dull. Or suitable for die-hard math heads, not families. On a snowy day this week I took my 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, and I was blown away by MoMath's kid-friendly, hands-on design.
My daughter headed straight for the square-wheeled tricycle. While waiting for her turn, I asked her to predict what the ride would be like, and she noticed how the squares moved on the arcs of the circular base. She correctly predicted a pretty smooth ride. My son went right for the racetrack where you can adjust the curves of hills for a car to race through, watching how it builds up momentum to complete the ride. Both kids love the Coaster Roller, pulling themselves along for a ride. When then got off, we headed to a nearby kiosk where you can read up on everything you're seeing. We learned that not everything that rolls smoothly need be a sphere. The sled and the rollers beneath are not round, but they give you a smooth ride because they have the same width no matter which way they're facing.
|Tesselation! Photo courtesy of Amy Kraft|
We headed to the downstairs section of this two-floor museum to find a space packed with more activities and puzzles. My daughter's favorite part of the museum was the Tessellation Station. She loved figuring out patterns of monkeys and dinosaurs, while my son made a pretty respectable effort tessellating the square tiles. I steered the 2-year-old towards some large geometric pillows to play with, until I realized two older boys were busy trying to figure out how to make them into a cube. Soon my daughter and another girl joined in, and I stood back in awe of how these kids started working cooperatively to find the solution to the puzzle. Then, with my son climbing all over the pieces, they embarked on a new challenge of making a cube but with a hole in the center to put the toddler in.
MoMath has only been open a couple of weeks, and on the day that we were there it was wall to wall people, mostly families with kids of all different ages. Unfortunately that meant there were puzzles and activities we didn't have a chance to do. There were also a bunch of activities out of order, perhaps not quite ready for the museum opening or overwhelmed by early use. No matter - all the more reason for a return visit. Overall, kids of all different ages will find activities and puzzles that excite them. My 2-year-old was on the young side, though he had a great time, but it was perfect for my 2nd Grade math lover. Older kids and adults will find interesting challenges, too, and can do more of the reading about the different mathematic principles at work. Even if you don't track down all the answers, you leave MoMath feeling like math is awesome.
Admission is less than the cost of taking the family to the movies in Manhattan. If you buy your tickets online, adults are $15.00 and children 2-12, students, and seniors are $9.00. (If you buy at the door, tickets have a $1.00 surcharge.) I'm also thinking that for us, the $125 family membership would quickly pay for itself.
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