MM: What exactly do you do for the Museum of Math?
MB: I am the Assistant Exhibit Designer, which means I worked with our Chief of Design to document and detail the exhibits, and to create renderings that advanced the exhibit designs, helped visualize and improve the exhibits, and aided in public relations and fundraising efforts. I also helped oversee the physical production of MoMath’s exhibits.
MM: I know you work for a math museum, but do you use math in your job? And if so, how?
MB: I use math in my job every day. As a designer, having a good understanding of measurement and space is essential. On top of that, because I design for a math museum, I often find myself doing unusual mathematics for exhibits, such as figuring out unique pathways that shapes roll on in Twist ‘n’ Roll.
MM: Tell us about your favorite exhibit.
MB: My favorite exhibit is Rhythms of Life. When first approaching, it looks like a giant glass cabinet filled with a lot of unusual artifacts, and three turntables below. At this exhibit, visitors are challenged to fill up a turntable with fraction tiles until they create one whole. Then, you choose an icon that represents one of the artifacts, and set it in a space next to your turntable. When you hit the “go” button, the turntable spins, and at the beginning of each fraction tile, the sound that the artifact would make is played. For example,if you fill the turntable with 4 quarters and choose the dog, then you would hear a dog bark 4 times in each revolution. There are 3 turntables, so visitors can play more than one sound at a time. What I really like about this exhibit is that it presents an incredibly fun and engaging way to learn about a mathematical topic (fractions) that many kids find less than exciting in the classroom. It also teaches a basic lesson about musical composition and how math and music are linked.
MM: What was math like for you when you were a kid and when you were in school?
MB: I have to admit, math was never my favorite subject. I found it to be boring and not creative. I was more interested in english and art. However, if I had been taught some of the more creative mathematical concepts out there, I’m sure I would have thought it much more engaging and exciting.
MM: Through working for MoMath, have you learned anything about math, or about yourself and math, that surprised you?
MB: Yes! Elaborating on my answer above, I like math now! That is not something 15-year-old me would have ever thought she’d say. Not only do I appreciate that I’m educated enough in math to use it in my job, but I understand that there is so much more to math than I knew about before working here, and I want to know more about many of these concepts that are new to me.
MM: What are you most excited for now that the museum is open?
MB: A semi-normal sleep schedule? Seriously, though, I’m most excited to get a chance to watch how visitors interact with the exhibits. If I see them having fun and learning, then I’ll know I’ve done my job well.
MM: Do you have any parting thoughts that you’d like to share with our young readers?
MB: I realize that math (or any other subject, for that matter) is not going to be everyone’s favorite topic of study. But, I hope that students today keep their minds open to learning about all the possibilities that different subjects have to offer, and wait to decide whether or not they like math until they are able to see what’s really out there.