Monday, June 2, 2008

Why did the Möbius strip cross the road?

Image by David Benbennick taken on March 14, 2005.

Last Thursday, I met with 36 Grade 4 students from Ms von Blerk’s class and Ms Schachter’s class at Westmount Park Public School in Montreal (a school that looks like a castle!). Nico and Max, who are homeschooling, attended the presentation too. We talked about the weird and cool parts of math and played with Möbius strips. The kids were great – polite and full of questions.

A couple of their questions stumped me! So I looked up the answer to "How did Pierre Fermat, creator of Fermat’s Last Theorem, die?" The encyclopedia didn’t say how he died but it did say that, in 1637, he scribbled in a book that he had a proof for his theorem . He didn’t die until 28 years later, but he still hadn’t written down the proof in a place where people could find it. Talk about not getting your homework done!

My presentation was part of an ongoing science program run by the excellent Montreal Children’s Library, a non-profit institution that has been providing free library service since 1929. Thanks to MCL Science Coordinator Josie Baker for setting up the event. And a big thank you to Librarian Elizabeth Macdonnell, Robin, the teachers and all the kids for making an author feel so welcome – and to the two students who volunteered to draw on and cut Möbius strips.

Here’s a joke for you all:

Why did the Möbius strip cross the road?

To get to the other....???!!!

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