Program: Professional Development
In 1975, a San Diego housewife named Marjorie Rice read in her son's copy of Scientific American
magazine, that there were only eight known pentagonal (five-sided) shapes in the world, that could entirely cover, or tessellate, a plane. Despite having had no math beyond high school, Marjorie resolved to find another. By 1977, she had discovered not just one, but FOUR new tessellations"a result noteworthy enough to be published the following year in 1978 in a mathematics journal.
The activity of recreational mathematics engages the same logical and deductive skills used in the formal endeavor of mathematics. The great allure requires extensions requiring pattern recognition and generalization; for example:
How can you identify a single counterfeit penny, slightly lighter than the rest, from a group of nine pennies, in only two weighings? A paper in January 2015 in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics [Volume 5 Issue 1] by Lovisa Sumpter points out that recreational math can be used to awaken mathematics-related "joy," "satisfaction," "excitement", and "curiosity" in students, which the educational policies of several countries (including China, India, Finland, Sweden, England, Singapore, and Japan) call for specifically in writing.