Mathematics – through no fault of its own – has earned a reputation as a subject that is unapproachable; for some, it is even hostile. An exhibition recently opened at the Havayeda Teva science center in Holon, Israel, in the hope of improving mathematics’ image so it can receive the recognition it truly deserves – not only as an exciting, varied, experiential world, but for its relevance in our daily lives.
The idea of creating an exhibition to draw children closer to the world of mathematics was formulated a few years ago by the Holon Branch Manager of Havayeda Teva, Dr. Hadar Ben Sade. Following the initial brainstorming stages, Ben Sade recruited the help of two young designers, Roi Figovsky and Yiftah Prat, graduates of the Department of Industrial Design at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, who have had considerable experience in designing science exhibitions but, according to them, “have no idea when it comes to mathematics.” This is where Ran Segal, a graduate of the Weizmann Institute’s Science Teaching Department, was brought into the picture. Segal gave private lessons to the two designers, teaching them the laws and important concepts of mathematics, introducing them to the work of influential mathematicians and outlining for them the main mathematical subjects. These meetings helped to consolidate the subject areas to be presented at the exhibition.
Ten creatively designed activity-filled workstations offer an enjoyable hands-on experience where visitors can learn basic mathematical laws and principles. Take, for example, the workstation devoted to the subject of symmetry – it has a camera that takes a photograph of the face, and with the press of a button the visitor can see how his or her face would look if it were completely symmetrical. Or the one dealing with the subject of combinatorics (combination theory): It invites the visitor to learn how to decipher codes and crack safes. Among other displays are those demonstrating the relative length of different limbs in the human body, explaining the geometrical differences between a flat plane and a sphere, and more – all through games and active participation.
The exhibition is currently being held in the Holon Havayeda Teva science center – one of nine interactive science centers founded and operated by the “Perach” tutoring and mentoring organization, under the aegis of the Davidson Institute of Science Education, and in collaboration with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.