I visited the Hewelianum Centre when I was in Gdansk and I discovered a new science museum which must be located in all the tourist guides:
The Hewelianum Centre is an educational and recreational centre for all age groups situated on the grounds of the Fort Góra Gradowa. The view from the top of the hill is the panorama of the historic town and the industrial landscape of the shipyard grounds. A picturesque park and a complex of restored 19th-century military remains hosting interactive exhibitions – this is today’s image of the Fort of Góra Gradowa.
Science popularization is the main objective of the Hewelianum Centre. Interactive and multimedia exhibitions and popular science events disclose the mysteries of physics and astronomy, transfer the visitors to the past, making the historic events better understandable in the present, teach how to be sensitive to the beauty of nature, and strengthen in visitors the belief that we are all responsible for our planet. In Hewelianum Centre you can perceive the world, learn about it, and relax yourself in an interactive, creative, and innovative way!
One of the exhibitions is called “Puzzle” (why not “Maths”?) and it’s a place where people can play with Mathematics:
Break the code and discover a new dimension of mathematics!
The “Puzzle” exhibition is a three-dimensional space: mathematical, interactive, and unconventional. It consists of more than 20 stations for experimenting – where mathematics governs, but in an unprecedented way!
By crossing the mathematical “puzzle” threshold, we enter the world of geometry, symmetry, and numbers. The mathematical setting, however, is only a backdrop for interactive learning and fun. A collection of the exhibition’s main attractions includes the multiplication tower, the Pythagorean theorem in liquid form, and the Möbius strip. Here you can also see what your face would look like if it were composed of two left or two right halves or check whether a meter is the same length for all. Visiting the mathematical “Puzzle” is a perfect idea for a unique scientific experience.
The exhibition is located in the Guardhouse over the Mortar Battery postern
The room is small but all the walls and corners are full of Maths experiments:
For example, there is a Galton box (or Bean machine) where Pascal’s triangle and the Gaussian function can be observed perfectly.
You can also play with the Towers of Hanoi and discover that the minimum number of moves required to solve the puzzle is 2n – 1, where n is the number of disks (this problem was first publicized in the West by Édouard Lucas in 1883):
Did you know that it’s possible to construct a byke with squared wheels? Yes, of course. The path for this bike must be formed by contiguous series of inverted catenaries!
And had you ever seen such a wonderful way to demonstrate the Theorem of Pythagoras? Water inside the square constructed on the hypothenusa fills perfectly in the two squares constructed on the other two sides:
Obviously, there are Möbius strips and Klein’s bottles:
And you can play with the light to discover the four conics:
There are poster about a lot of mathematical subjects but tha puzzle that fascinatd so much to my son and daughter was this experiment with volumes. They discovered that the volume of a prism is three times the volume of the corresponding pyramid although they played with the red sand preparing cornflakes for breakfast!
If you visit Gdansk you must go to Hewelianum Centre and really enjoy Maths!
Last Wednesday I went to MMACA (Museum of Mathematics of Catalonia) with some of my students. This museum is located in Mercader Palace in Cornellà de Llobregat (near Barcelona) since February and we enjoyed a very interesting “mathematical experience”.
The museum is not so big but you can “touch” and discover Mathematics in all its rooms. I think that there are enough experiences to enjoy arithemtical and geometrical properties, simmetries, mirrors, impossible tessellations, Stadistics,…
For example, students could check the validity of theorem of Pythagoras in two ways. First of all, they coud weigh wooden squares and check that the square constructed on the hypotenuse of a right triangle weighs the same as the two squares constructed on the other two sides of the triabgle. Later, they discovered that the first square could be divided in some pieces of Tangram with which they could construct the other two squares. So the visitors demonstrated the theorem in a very didactic way: playing with balances and playing with tangram.
Students also learnt some properties of the cycloid and they could check its brachistochronic characteristic. I imagine Galileo or some of Bernoulli brothers in the 17th century doing the same experiments with a similar instrument. What a wonderful curve! The ball always reaches the central point in the same time and its initial position doesn’t matter!
Another of the studied curves is the catenary which is one of the emblematic mathematical symbols of Antoni Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona.
Of course, polyhedra are very important in the exhibition and visitors can play with them so they discover some of their most important properties. For example, which is the dual polyhedron of the dodecahedron? Playing with it the students could see that the hidden polyhedron is a… You must visit MMACA and discover it!
Another example: look at these three wooden pieces…
The dodecahedron has an ortonormal symmetry and we can check it with an ortonormal set of mirrors:
There are more mirrors and more wooden pieces to play and construct other different Platonic and Archimedian polyhedra.
And… did you know that it’s possible to draw a right line playing with two circles? If the red circle rotates within the black one… what figure is described by the yellow point?
In the 13th century, the great Nasîr al-Dîn al-Tûsî had to build one similar instrument to improve the astronomical geometrical systems with his “Al-Tûsî’s pair”:
Rotating a circle within another one, he could move a point in a right line without denying Aristotelian philosophy. This dual system was used by al-Tûsî in his Zîj-i Ilkhanî (finished in 1272) and Nicolas Copernicus probably read this innovation together with other Arabic astronomical models. Thinking about them, he began to improve the astronomical system of his De Revolutionibus (1543). Al-Tûsî’s pair was very famous until the 15th century.
In Erathostenes Room there are some Sam lloyd’s puzzles, games about tesselations, Stadistics, Probablility and this quadric:
I didn’t know that it could be described only with a multiplication table! Is its equation z = xy? Yes, of course! My students also played to build the famous Leonardo’s bridge and they could see that there isn’t necessary any nail to hold a bridge.
Ah! And I can’t forget to say that if you visit MMACA with a person that don’t like Maths, he/she can always admire this beautiful XIX century Mercader Palace:
Furthermore, one of the rooms of the palace is decoratd by a chess lover!
So… you must go to MMACA and enjoy Mathematics in a way ever done!
Today I’ve seen this picture taken in the cathedral of Wells. It’s a typical vault in the English Cathedrals and it’s impossible to say that it’s a very mathematical image, isn’t it?