Calling the Guggenheim
During Dan Meyer’s keynote on Wedenesday night, he showed this great photograph of an exhibit at the Guggenheim as an example of his #anyq’s effort.
This is almost a perfect opening for a three act math story. Right now, you’re thinking—”how much money is in the room?” And there’s only one problem—you don’t have the dimensions of the room. In his keynote, Dan descirbed being in the room, and all they ways he contemplated testing security to get the dimensions of the room, but he came up empty handed. Then he decided to call the public relations department to see if they’d be willing to give him the blueprints for the room.
And cool part here: The Guggenhiem called him back with the blueprints. Dan even played the voicemail for the audience.
So how many times in your teaching career do you get to the point where you think “This would be so cool, if…If I knew of an aerospace engineer I could talk to about the how the engine works, if I could get the building dimensions from an engineer, if I could put my kids in touch with the author of the book?” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thought of that and then done nothing, thinking all of those people are out of my reach, and none of them would be interested in helping out a high school teacher or connecting with kids.
Dan has inspired me to call the Guggenheim—to take the seemingly impossible next step of reaching out into the world to grab the information you need bring awesomeness to your work.
And here’s an example of just how easy this is. Part of our homework from Dan’s workshop was to go out and find interesting math stories in photos and videos. One of the most visually compelling was this image by Alistair Heseltine:
Instantly, the question everyone had was “how many logs?” But this is where act 2 sort of falls apart. No one knew how many logs there were, or how to go about finding out. At first, we didn’t even know who created the image.
But then I googled “woodpile shaped like tree”, and pretty soon found this link to BoingBoing, and then Alister’s own website. So I dashed off this quick email:
I am a high school physics teacher. I found your incredible art of the woodpile shaped like a tree. I was wondering if you knew/clould tell me how many logs/trees went into making the tree shaped woodpile. It would greatly help a quick little project I’m trying to do that uses your photograph as inspiration.
A couple of days later, I got this response:
Maybe 15 trees of different sizes in a big heap cut up over a period of time……. perhaps you can use your math skills to reverse engineer the details………….
here’s some more guesstimates,
I figured there was between 4&5 cords but I may have inflated that to make myself feel more impressive…….one chord = 4X4X8 feet
wood pile was 50 X12 feet or was it 13 ? approx you will have to do the area geometry yourself
wood billets cut between 16 and 18 inches long stacked to one log depth
biggest tree about 16″ diam split into 8 wedges at butt …. tapering to 5″ cut in half at 50 feet distance from base you do the math on the number of wedges in that tree and then get the kids to count all the bits in the pile
Total time spent: less than 30 minutes.
When will you call the Guggenheim?