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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Life of pi-comes alive

Deccan Herald
"The enigmatic pi used in mathematics need not be made tedious for students. They can decipher it through creative ways, writes M A Siraj." reports Deccan Herald.

Numbers are integral to our life. In this age of fast automation, there is no escape from them. Numeracy is part of literacy. With each passing day, more and more numbers would enter our life as digitization gains pace.

Years ago, Doordarshan ran a 42-episode serial titled Chauraha aimed at promoting literacy among the rural womenfolk, slum dwellers, the dhaba workers, artisans and peasants.

A Voyage Through Numbers
A Bangalore-based organization, Brainstars has come up with ‘NumberNagar’, a uniquely designed Math Activity Centre for students from 3rd to 7th standard or 8-13 age group. The prototype—in a 15 feet by 15 feet room—is designed to take the children on an imaginative voyage where they experience mathematics.

One enters the NumberNagar through a door at the zero mile signpost. A series of magnetic cards bring to life the history of mathematicians, several among them being Indians. A wall-mounted ‘zero suitcase’ illustrates the most notable contribution of Indian mathematician i.e., zero which enabled the world to crunch numbers that ran unwieldy till then due to use of Roman numerals.

Ratios and the proportions of human body so ably explained by Leonardo da Vinci through his Vitruvian Man enclosed within a square overlapping a circle lets a student explore the wisdom embedded in the diagram made in 1490.

Next comes the piece de resistance: a city map with civic paraphernalia like the lamp posts, jogging tracks, water towers, public taps, a jumble of domes, gopurams, minarets and spires of places of worship, traffic signs, pushcarts, mobile eateries, are etched in visuals. Says Anupama, Prakash, President, communications of the Brainstars, the city map is hoped to inspire students and teachers to the possibilities of mathematics in various concepts in the city.

“The map is not intended to be drawn to scale nor a comprehensive and representative map of urban space. Instead, it distorts distance, size, symbols and scale to facilitate the viewer a deeper, analytical and reflective experience of the city”.
Photo: Srinivasa Ramanujam

NumberNagar was launchd on December 22, the 125th birth anniversary of legendary Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam as the dusk settles over 2012, the year dedicated as the National Year of Mathematics by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Launch will take place at Freedom Park.

Related link
NumberNagar – Press Release

About BrainSTARS

BrainSTARS is an organisation dedicated to fostering and nurturing the movement of Science and Maths Education in India. We act as the bridge between the formal education sector and innovative educational research. We continuously explore the demands and conditions of contemporary Science and Maths education in five environments - school, college, professional science/ math education, community science/math literacy and government policies.
Based on our studies we create educational solutions through products and programmes that significantly address and fulfill the Science and Maths education challenges in any environment.

About Number Nagar

Number Nagar is a hands-on, unique Maths activity centre developed by BrainSTARS with inputs from researchers, educationists, pedagogues, artists and space designers. It takes maths off the school chapters and connects it to the city our children live in so that mathematical concepts are no longer alien entities but an exciting daily experience.
NumberNagar is radically different from the software-based Maths Labs available in the market right now. It emphasizes three things:
  1. The visual and tactile experience of the city we live in. How does the city animate a child`s curiosity for patterns and happenings, shapes and proportions, measurements and calculations - all conceptual mathematical areas that penetrate our daily urban lives in astounding ways.
  2. Conceptual learning of Maths by applying it to the familiar and the everyday.
  3. Enabling the children to communicate their understanding of Mathematical concepts by sharing their works in groups and listening to each other for feedback and insights.
We have developed NumberNagar for visitors of all ages and levels of math ability, but with particular relevance to children in 3 - 8 standards (implementing school curriculum across school boards).
We provide in-house facilitators (or teacher training) and support system for all NumberNagar installations. NumberNagar is scalable to serve any geography. Please visit us to examine the prototype.
Source: Deccan Herald