Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fractal Fest '09

I know it's been a while since I checked in...suffice it to say that the REU's been keeping me busy (no surprise there). That, combined with trying to wrap up the proposal to get continued funding for the program (this year's the last supported year) and trying to think of something meaningful to say about writing programs in times of economic hardship, has kept me away.

I simply had to say a little something about this afternoon's first "math in public places" event, the Fractal Making Festival sponsored by Algebra al Fresco. With roughly 25 students and passersby lending their help, we were able to build a Level-2 Menger sponge out of business cards in about four hours. The actual construction of the cubes and the Level-1 sponges took about three hours, and the assembly of the Level-2 from the Level-1s took another hour of careful surgery.

The finished product is pretty sweet, I have to say; it's sitting in the back seat of our car right now, awaiting transport to the Math Department sometime early next week.

Check it out, pictures below!

This first was from early on, when things were just getting underway:

Not more than an hour or so in, we really started to build up a backlog of little Level-0s, as you can see here:

Pretty soon two of us dedicated ourselves to the sole task of assembling the Level-1s, and a third joined us an hour later, just to keep up with the Level-0s coming our way.

We had help from folks of all ages:

Progress was made. Soon we turned to putting together the Level-1s, and the Level-2 was born, a little bit... a time...

In the end:

We had a bit of fun transporting it down Haywood Street to the parking garage where I'd left the car. The table on which we'd set it while it was under construction made a handy palanquin:

Oohs and aahs accompanied this procession (at least, I like to think they did). In any case we got a good number of stares of curiosity.

Next on the Algebra al Fresco agenda? Pi recitation? Math poetry slam? Some sort of graph theoretical six degrees of separation sort of game? I'm not sure. Stay tuned: further bulletins as events warrant.

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