Monday, October 22nd, 2012...6:03 pm

Tubular Topology

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Yesterday, which would have have been Martin Gardner’s 98th birthday, I posted the article Tied in a Mathematical Knot to honor Gardner’s birthday and the Celebration of Mind events that are and will occur throughout the world. Ours at Davidson will be next month.

The article was presented in the context of playing with rope or string. In Tanya Chartier and my Mime-matics show, we motivate this same idea a bit differently. First, we perform the sketch you see below.

So, how do we teach topology with the tube? We play a game with our flexible friend, Slink. We have a simple rule.

Two objects will be mathematically similar if Slinky can move from one shape to another without detaching or attaching the ends of the tube.

If Slink starts in this shape:

which of the following letters are mathematically similar to that shape?

We find many children enjoy exploring these ideas with our tube. Need your own Slink? Get a dryer vent and go at it!

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