More Math! Resources: All Ages

For those of you who can't wait until the next National Math Festival, we invite you to explore the wonder and beauty of math with these puzzles, games, books, videos, and other mathy treats.

Resources are categorized by age level (All Ages, Kids and Families, Teens and Adults) as well as a selection of Featured Videos. New resources are added each month!

Have a suggestion for us? Share with @natmathfestival on Twitter or send to mathfestival@msri.org!

Learn & Explore

Estimation 180
Teacher Andrew Statel has created these visual exercises to help his students build their number sense. Give them a try and maybe you’ll be a ringer the next time someone asks you to “guess the number of jellybeans in the jar”!

Find Your Pi Day
To celebrate Pi Day, Wolfram Alpha created this generator – enter your birth date, or any number sequence, and the system will find the same consecutive sequence within pi!

How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube
This Think Maths guide to solving a Rubik’s Cube will take you through a simple method for solving a scrambled cube. Watching the videos will help you to learn a layer-by-layer solve, and the same solving method is outlined on the worksheets included, with appropriate diagrams. The method can be learned individually, or by whole class groups with teacher support.

The Mathematics of Juggling
Juggling has advanced enormously in recent decades, thanks in part to the mathematical study of possible patterns. The late computer scientist Claude Shannon was also an avid unicyclist, juggler and tinkerer. In the early 1980s, Shannon published the first formal mathematical theorem of juggling, and mathematicians have been fascinated ever since. You can find a great video about the math of juggling by National Math Festival presenter George Hart as well!

NEW! Personal Polynomial
The Global Math Project invites you to get your very own Personal Polynomial, the math formula that spells your name! Whether your name is three letters or 30, this magic machine can always find the equation that adds up to… you! As a special treat, your polynomial can be saved as an image to share with friends, family, and classmates. How does it work? Watch the videos to learn the secrets behind this equation.

Pixel Spreadsheet
When you take a digital photo, your camera measures the amount of red, green and blue light hitting each pixel, ranks them on a scale from 0 to 255 and then records those values as a spreadsheet. 2017 Festival presenter Matt Parker found a way to actually open digital photos as spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel or similar programs. Upload a photo and instantly download it as a real spreadsheet, and learn from Matt’s experiments!

The Scale of the Universe
Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way!


Tessellations.org
Tessellations are symmetrical designs which can fit together in repetitive patterns like simple jigsaw puzzles. These fill a surface, usually a 2D plane, without gaps or overlaps. Brick walls, tiled floors, and the honeycomb in bee hives are all tessellations. You can learn about and see tessellations made by pros and amateurs, both adults and kids, or submit your own designs.

Wild Maths
Mathematics is a creative subject, involving spotting patterns, making connections, finding new ways of looking at things and using what you already know in new contexts. Wild Maths has games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where there are discoveries to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate and develop as a mathematician.

Puzzles & Games

52 Master Pieces
An armchair treasure hunt puzzle contest overflowing with classic and original brainteasers, games, ciphers, puzzles, wordplay, and more. Free for everyone to enjoy!

Dots & Boxes
Two players take turns drawing lines to connect dots, and whoever closes a square gets to put their initial inside, and the player with the most claimed squares wins! Sounds easy? This classic pen and paper game, beloved by children, gets new strategic insights in this video featuring Dr. Elwyn Berlekamp, a mathematician and expert in combinatorial games like chess and Go.

Imbalance Problems
These puzzles are made of squares, triangles, and circles suspended by bars and wires from a center fulcrum. We can tell that the shapes don’t weigh the same when both sides don’t balance – but can you order them from heaviest to lightest just by looking at each puzzle? Use the pictures as your clues and try these fun brainteasers!

Large Birds, Hungry Tigers, and Other Logic Puzzles
Raymond M. Smullyan, a mathematician, often met people who said they hated math, and yet they loved his logic puzzles. Can you solve this sampling?

Match the Women Mathematicians
The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) created this game – can you match these women with their scientific accomplishments? (You can also find biographies of women mathematicians to learn more via Agnes Scott College!)

Math and Logic Puzzles by Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner (1914-2010) was an American popular mathematics and science writer, who shared his love of fun math and logic puzzles and magic tricks through decades of magazines and journal articles and books. For a taste of his work, try this collection of puzzles inspired by Gardner’s writings.

MathDice Daily Challenge
This mentally challenging and fun online dice game by ThinkFun helps players sharpen math skills by solving problems in a fun new way.

NEW! Puzzle Making Workshop Materials from Scott Kim
At the 2017 Festival, Scott Kim hosted a hands-on workshop showing kids of all ages (that includes adults) how to make your own versions of Sudoku and Pentominoes — two of the most popular mathematical puzzles. If you didn’t make it to the event, or you attended and want more, here are the downloadable handouts for his activities so you can try them at home!

Art and Crafts

Mathematical Imagery
The connection between mathematics and art goes back thousands of years. Mathematicians and artists continue to create stunning works in all media, from computer graphics to origami, 3D printing, and LEGO sculptures!

Origami and Math
How do origami and math relate to each other? Start by unfolding an origami model and find a complex geometric pattern, even in simple projects. Did you know that you were folding those angles or shapes?  You can try to solve origami challenges, such as folding a piece of paper so that certain color patterns arise, or so that a shape of a certain area results.

Print & Play Resources
These projects can be printed at home and assembled to create mathematical objects!

  • All About FlexagonsLots of activities here about folding these tricky paper puzzles. You can also try our 2017 National Math Festival flexagon print and play puzzle at home!
  • Free Math Printables: 3D ShapesCreate free printable patterns for common 3D shapes like pyramids, cubes, octahedrons, and more! You can add your own photos, textures, or clipart images to the faces to make them more colorful. Use these patterns to print and construct photo cubes, math models, and more.
  • Platonic Paper Folding: These polyhedra designs by the Bridges Organization were a hit at the 2017 Festival – now you can print and assemble them at home with cardstock and glue.

Books & Video

Easy Origami
This low-cost book (under $5) is a great way to start learning origami skills! Try 32 simple projects using origami—clearly illustrated and with easy-to-follow instructions that even beginning papercrafters can follow with success.

Navajo Math Circles
This inspiring documentary film, airing on PBS starting in September 2016, is a peek at the lives of the hundreds of Navajo children who in recent years have found themselves at the center of a lively collaboration with mathematicians from around the world, exploring the deep connections between math, nature, and Navajo culture.

Numberphile
Journalist Brady Haran makes fascinating videos starring mathematicians and others from around the world who are excited to share their favorite topics with you, whether it’s learning about curvature from eating a slice a pizza to picturing a number “so epic it will collapse your brain into a black hole”! Over 200 million viewers have joined the fun – there’s something for everyone here.

Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty
Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss have created a unique coloring and activity book showcasing the fascinating things math can be discovered in the universe, from 4D hypercubes to the infinite patterns of tessellations and more. For even more fun, check out the follow-up title, Visions of the Universe: A Coloring Journey Through Math’s Great Mysteries.

Tadashi’s Toys
Professor Tadashi Tokieda loves to share his toys: in this case, objects you can often make in a matter of minutes at home, which explore “pockets of mystery” in nature and physics. These videos come with lively animated guides to help illustrate the principles of mathematics at work.

Vi Hart: Doodling in Math and more 
Recreational mathematics and inspirational videos by Vi Hart, hosted by the free Khan Academy.

Get Involved

National Association of Math Circles
Math Circles bring K-12 students together to explore mathematical ideas, facilitated by professional mathematicians. Activities center around cooperative and playful experimentation, discussion, and solution of interesting, easily understood problems that offer many paths of attack, which can lead to harder and deeper problems that can be solved using the same methods. MSRI’s National Association of Math Circles can connect you with more than 180 Math Circles around the U.S.!

SciStarter
SciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through more than 1,600 formal and informal research projects and events. Satisfy the urge to tinker, build, and explore through this database of research projects open to people of all ages to jump in and get their hands dirty with science!