5 Best Math Museums In America

Math can be a crashing bore–or it can be incredibly fun, engaging, and exciting. It all depends who’s doing the teaching. In this guest post, Noelle takes us on a tour of five museums that bring math to life–and get kids (and by “kids” I mean anyone from about 2-102) excited about learning. That right there makes them worth the price of admission.

Math is one of the easiest subjects to learn while traveling. Our natural world surrounds us with math, and learning it opens a whole new perspective on the planet we live in and the forms that inhabit it. Geometry in particular can be taught on the road, by looking at architecture and solving equations relating to it. For parents traveling with younger children, try quizzing them often on their math skills to keep their abilities up to par. Another interesting way to learn about math while on the road is to take your family to exciting mathematical museums around the world. Here are a few of the best in the United States:

Boston Science Museum

This museum is chockfull of hands-on activities to teach both kids and adults about the mathematical properties of the world around them. It’s most famous math exhibit is “Mathematica,” an extraordinary exhibit created by the distinguished design team of Charles and Ray Eames in 1981. It displays not one, but many different branches of math, including probability, Boolean algebra, logic, calculus, topology, and geometry. The exhibit is visually appealing, consisting of amazingly intricate geometric figures. Kids from eight to eighty-eight are sure to enjoy a trip to Mathematica. While you’re there, take some time to explore some of the other incredible exhibits at the Boston Science Museum.

The Willard Smith Planetarium, Seattle

Believe it or not, astrology has everything to do with math. Astronomers use math near constantly to do calculations pertaining to how much light objects in the sky are emitting, what type of light it is, ect. And the Willard Smith Planetarium at the Pacific Science Museum is a great place to go in order to learn more about the universe around us, and how math works with astronomy. This planetarium recently underwent renovations, so it boasts the most up-to-date technology available today.

U.S Space and Rocket Center, Washington D.C.

Astronauts also find math invaluable in their everyday work life. The U.S Space and Rocket Center is perfect for children and adults alike! Featuring U.S. manned space flight hardware, visitors to this center find themselves walking through an incredible assortment of used spacecraft. Museum guides are handy to answer your every question, including queries on how math is used by those who venture into space.

Momath Museum Of Math, NYC

This exciting new museum of math for kids will be opening December 15, 2012. It will have many hands-on exhibits for children of all ages, and a few for adults to enjoy as well! It’s most eagerly awaited exhibit is Pedal on the Petals, an exhibit that teaches kids the basics of geometry as they ride bicycles with square wheels along a grooved “petal”. This incredible museum is recommended for kids 13 and under.

Math Alive, Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Both adults and children will have a blast at this incredible museum and one of it’s most famous exhibits: Math Alive. There are 40 different interactive areas in this exhibit, and all are exciting! In one section, 4D snowboards can be ridden, in another, both young and old are able to create their own video games and play them. Some of the other activities include being able to capture a 360º image of yourself, be the star of a dance floor involving fractals, operate simulations of NASA’s most recent robotics, test your bridge-building skills, and design an ecologically sustainable city. Professionals in many different businesses have participated in this exhibit, and have shared how they use math in their jobs.

These are just a few of the great museums you can find in the States alone that have incorporated math into their exhibits. Children and adults alike will be amazed at how much math is used in our everyday lives! As you travel, be sure to stop and experience some of these incredible math hotspots!

As a part-time math tutor Noelle is very passionate about helping children connect and enjoy math. She writes independently for MathNook which she finds to be a very helpful resource for great learning tools.

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