Math education resources
June 14, 2016 10:07 PM   Subscribe

I am aiming to create extracurricular programming for people of all ages (but I'm particularly focused on teens and adults) to illuminate the neat areas of math that aren't covered in school. (Graph theory, mobius strips, pascal's triangle, things like that.) However, I don't have a very official background in mathematics myself. 1) What resources can I use to teach myself about math in those areas, or math leading up to those areas? 2) What resources are out there for kids/teens/adults to increase their math awareness?

Re: 1, I've been reading various books (texts on graph theory, etc.), using MIT OCW courses (Discrete math, multivariable calc, and linear algebra). Recommendations for specific math books are appreciated. I find Robin J. Wilson's Graph Theory textbook to be readable. Many other texts rely on familiarity with terms that I have not heard before. I would especially appreciate some sort of math glossary, or texts that, while they go deeply into the math, define their terms early on. Popular math books have been a good start, but I want to go deeper into the math.

Re 2: I've visited the Museum of Mathematics and love what they're doing.
posted by azalea_chant to Education (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by foveacentralis at 10:13 PM on June 14, 2016

Vi Hart
posted by wym at 10:54 PM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Martin Gardner wrote a column for Scientific American called "Mathematical Games", which ran for more than 25 years and covered exactly the kind of thing you're talking about.

The majority of those columns have been reprinted in collections.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:20 PM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

reddit's /r/learnmath and /r/math are good, broad communities. (/r/math hates homework questions so take a bit of care on phrasing and there's a weekly "short question" thread which would be appropriate for a query about a specific notation)

One issue with Math at some point is that it's just so huge and diverse but also ultra specialized that going down one thread to build expertise, the details and notation can be very different than what seems to be from "the outside" an almost identical topic. The arrows of category theory seem to be like a graph visually, but kinda sorta vastly different concepts (yet related somehow).
posted by sammyo at 4:50 AM on June 15, 2016

You might also want to look into Math Circles (both to go to and as a model). I went to one myself as a middle schooler and I think it did a wonder in introducing me to things in math outside of the standard curriculum.
posted by Hactar at 5:58 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a whole genre of college-level math the books that have many of this type of topic, typically called "math for liberal arts". One book you might especially like is Ed Burger and Mike Starbird's "The Heart of Mathematics".
posted by leahwrenn at 9:35 AM on June 15, 2016

Math for Smarty Pants does a great job of covering some concepts that schools don't tend to cover in a very accessible way. It is below the age level you suggested, but I think it could be useful neverthless. I also like The I Hate Mathematics Book a lot, though the title is (even more) unfortunate.
posted by freezer cake at 10:09 AM on June 15, 2016

Thanks! Hactar, math circles are one thing I'm looking at running.

I've marked a best answer, but other answers are still appreciated! While I'm focused on teens, if you have resources for younger age groups, I like those too.
posted by azalea_chant at 10:59 PM on June 16, 2016

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