by Perrenque

Consider a toy as simple as a baseball bat. Most people would not consider whacking a ball with a bat to be an educational moment. It can be. Of course, taking some swats does improve hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, but there is an even greater possibility for education. The process can be used to illustrate some basic physical properties, like gravity. It can also be used to stir conversations with a child about history (talk about the role of Babe Ruth on American culture in the 1920s or the integration of baseball by Jackie Robinson). Suddenly, a simple bat becomes an educational toy.

This is not only true of sports equipment. What does a doll teach us? Well, it might just be a device for some fun play. With a younger child, however, it is a way to discuss the parts of the body. An older child can learn and practice social skills. The doll can be used as a surrogate to teach other lessons, too. What if the doll wasn’t just a goofy character to toss around and instead a game was made in which the doll played to role of a student and the child a teacher, providing instruction in basic spelling or mathematics? The young teacher would actually be practicing important skills in the guise of play. The doll becomes an educational toy.

The idea is simple. A toy is a toy. It is potential as an educational device is limited only by a parent’s imagination, direction and involvement. An engaged parent who participates in play can make fun and learning go hand in hand. Once these patterns are established, children will often take it upon themselves to make their toys into educational toys. They will begin to use play differently-they will still gain all the advantages of fun and of imagination, but they will do so in an environment that also encourages learning.

Flashcards are great. So are electronic learning systems. The toys we traditionally perceive as educational offer great learning opportunities. However, it would be wrong to categorize other toys as anything less educational. Any toy can be used in a way that encourages learning and development. We don’t have to limit educational opportunities to toys specifically designed with that purpose in mind. When properly used with quality parental direction, every toy can be a great educational toy.

**Mathematics**

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*Mathematics*

* Mathematical mysteries have challenged humanity’s most powerful thinkers and inspired passionate, lifelong obsessions in search of answers. From the strangeness of prime numbers and the nature of infinity, to the turbulent flow of fluids and the geometry of hyperspace, mathematics is our most potent tool for revealing immutable truths. The event was a vibrant tour to the boundaries of the mathematical universe, and explore the deep puzzles that have been solved, the masterminds who powered the breakthroughs, and the towering challenges that have shaken the confidence of some of today’s most accomplished mathematicians—even as they enlist new ways to pursue mathematical truths.

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PARTICIPANTS: Jonathan Borwein, Keith Devlin, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Singh

Original Program Date: June 3, 2011

Welcome to the Mathematical Universe. 00:13

Participant Introductions. 01:50

What about math got you interested in the subject? 04:07

Is math an instinct in humans? 10:20

When in history did the number come into existence? 15:22

Math was key to ancient survival. 20:27

1+1=0 Adding in binary. 25:59

Why are some people better at math than others? 26:55

Nontransitive dice game. 33:44

What’s the best story about math… Infinite primes? 38:05

Do all math problems have an answer? 44:33

Teamwork with math leads to polymath. 49:30

The computer replacing the mathematician? 54:40

Can we mathematically understand the universe we are in without seeing it? 58:48

Perfect Rigour and Grigori Perelman solved the Poincare Conjecture 01:03:10

If you have determination math is easy. 01:09:09

Mathematics is hierarchical and you need to start from the beginning. 01:13:07

Mysteries of the Mathematical Universe

__Mathematics__