Mathematical Art & Play
The MLC believes that students and staff should not just learn and use maths, but also enjoy it. So we engage in a lot of mathematical art and play.
To find out more about any of these activities, please contact us.
One Hundred Factorial is a gathering of staff, students and friends to solve puzzles and play mathematical games together, both online and face-to-face. We have face-to-face games and puzzle sessions on campus regularly during teaching weeks, and monthly at other times. You can also follow our puzzle-solving on social media.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME to One Hundred Factorial. You don't have to be associated with the University of Adelaide to join in. Children are welcome, but for legal reasons you must stay at the event with your children - we cannot responsible for supervising them.
- Printable handout of some favourite puzzles (PDF)
- We like to do giant collaborative versions of logic puzzles like Jigoku, Addoku (aka Killer Sudoku), Galaxy, Slitherlink and Skyscrapers.
- Also check out some favourite games and puzzles over on the Games and Puzzles tab.
Holiday Puzzle Session:
|September holiday puzzle session||
10am-2pm, Wednesday 19 September
Level 4 Hub Central
Regular Puzzle Sessions
12noon-2pm, Level 4 Hub Central
Wednesdays during Semester 1 & 2 University Teaching Weeks
- MLC lecturer David occasionally writes about the puzzles we do at One Hundred Factorial on his blog. Check out the posts at the One Hundred Factorial blog category.
- MLC lecturer David gave a seminar on One Hundred Factorial at the MASA Annual Conference in April 2017. Check out the details over on the Seminars tab.
- You can join in with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #100factorial.
MLC Lecturer David Butler creates mathematical artworks, usually of a collaborative constructive nature. See photos of past artwork here, and find out more about each below.
This artwork is being constructed across 2016 and 2017, and features the 3D shape called a "silver rhombic dodecahedron". They are built from an origami unit folded from A4 paper. To find out more, follow the link to the Space-Filling/Mind-Filling page.
My Piece of Pi
This is a collaborative artwork designed by David K Butler (one of the MLC lecturers). We plan to draw more than 1000 digits of the number pi on the North Terrace campus of the University of Adelaide Adelaide on International Pi Approximation Day 22nd of July. To find out more, follow the link to the My Piece of Pi page.
Used AdelaideMetro public transport tickets were be glued together according to simple rules to construct a random cellular automaton, creating tree-like patterns as more tickets are added. To find out more, follow the link to the Random Journeys Page
The Sierpinski Sponge
Several thousand paper pyramids were made and stuck together to build a model of a 3D fractal known as the Sieprinski Sponge, in 2011 and in 2015. To find out more, follow the link to the Sierpinski Sponge Page
The MLC lecturers like to create and collect puzzles and games. Here are some that you might find interesting:
- 16 Sudokus -- a set of 16 sudoku puzzles with a connection
- Quarter the Cross -- an open-ended puzzle with a creative flair (also check out the Twitter hashtag #QuarterTheCross)
- 4-Dimensional Noughts and Crosses -- a two-player game that requires spatial thinking in four dimensions
- Which Number Where -- a two-player game that is a bit like battleships and a bit like Guess Who.
- Giant SET -- cards for the game SET that can be printed on A4 paper to make giant cards (SET originally designed by Marsha Falco and published by SET enterprises)
- Bodyscale Prime Climb -- a version of the Primb Climb game (originally designed by Dan Finkel and published by Math4Love) that can be played with humans as the playing pieces. The cards can also be printed 32 to a page to create a deck of small cards that you can arrange on a table. You can download a pdf of the cards and spinner template, and a version of the rules.
- Extended Prime Climb Cards -- a version of the Prime Climb cards (based on the board game originally designed by Dan Finkel and published by Math4Love) that goes from 1 to 144 with an extra colour for eleven. These can be printed 32 to a page to make an extended deck of cards to arrange on a table.
- Jenga Views -- 20 puzzles of increasing complexity where you need to build a structure from Jenga blocks to match the three views (orthographic projections) given. If you want to make your own, the template is in this SVG file (which you can edit with Inkscape). (The original version of this was made by JD Hamkins using differently-sized blocks, and I have redrawn it to use Jenga blocks.)
Occasionally, the MLC lecturers give seminars on maths or maths-related topics, where the focus is on the fun or interest of the maths. Find out more about the past seminars here.
The Maths Learning Centre occasionally provide seminars and workshops about the joyful and playful aspects of maths, both at university and elsewhere.
- Playful and Joyful Maths (keynote at MAVCON 2017)
This keynote presentation was given by David Butler at the MAV Annual Conference in Decemeber 2017.
I love maths. I derive great joy in finding the maths around me, talking about it, and solving problems I've never seen before. Yet I know not everyone experiences this kind of mathematical joy. Some find the concept of joy in maths a little alien. Some like maths but struggle to find joy in the maths they face daily. Some do have the joy but wonder how to help their friends, students and colleagues find it. I have come to realise that my own joy in maths has been created by a continual and concerted effort to play. I've organised more time to play with maths in my life, but also infused a playful attitude into the daily maths I do with students.
This session is about how to take a playful approach to your maths in order to find more joy. I'll talk about what both joy and play feel like and how they make a difference to growth mindset. I’ll share my experiences running puzzle sessions and in providing maths learning support to thousands of students. You will get a chance to engage in some playful maths activities, and to find the play in maths that at first looks like hard work or like the 'same old thing'. I hope that you will learn some strategies to be more playful and hence find more mathematical joy.
To view the prezi from the seminar on Prezi.com, follow this link: Playful and Joyful Maths MAV keynote on Prezi.com
I (David) mentioned several puzzles and other resources in the presentation, and here are links to most of them. Note that you can find information about One Hundred Factrorial and about my mathematical art projects here on this webpage by clicking on the tabs. (Those puzzles that I don't have links for, feel free to just take the pictures from the presentation.)
- My blog post about the Zero Zeros problem
- My blog post about the Spotless Dice problem
- My blog post about the bodyscale Prime Climb game
- My blog post about the Panda Squares puzzle
- Sara Van Der Werf's blog post about Play Tables in High School maths classrooms
- Link to the Math in Your Feet website -- Malke Rosenfeld's work on whole-body maths learning
- My blog post about the frustrated cone
- My blog post about 65536
- Link to information about the Notice and Wonder routine
- Link to the Open Middle problems website
- Link to a #MTBoS twitter search
- One Hundred Factorial: Playful and Joyful Maths
This workshop was given by David Butler at the MASA Annual Conference in April 2017, and also at TMC 17 in July 2017.
In this session, we'll explore what it means and what it feels like to engage in joyful play in maths, and how to encourage the atmosphere that allows for it. I'll describe what I have learned at the puzzle and games group "One Hundred Factorial" over the last ten years, and give participants a chance to experience a bit of what I do there for themselves. Come prepared to play with some puzzles together.
To view the prezi from the seminar on Prezi.com, follow this link: One Hundred Factorial: Playful and Joyful Maths on Prezi.com
- The Queen of Hearts Plays Noughts and Crosses
This workshop was given by David Butler at the MASA Annual Conference in April 2017.
In this session, we'll explore the fascinating world of finite geometry through the medium of noughts and crosses and a deck of cards. The ideas here would be useful for extension of students at many different year levels and levels of maths skill.
- ⌊ n!/e ⌉
This seminar was be given by David Butler as part of the School of Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Seminar Series in September 2014, and also again at the MASA conference in 2018.
What is this formula? Why does it use those strangely mismatched brackets, and why does it use both factorial and the number e? What is it supposed to calculate? And why would someone love it so much that they put it on a t-shirt? In this seminar you will find out the answers to all of these questions, and also find out what derangements have to do with Taylor's theorem.
To view the prezi from the seminar on Prezi.com, follow this link: n factorial on e on Prezi.com
- Eigenvalue Magic Tricks
This seminar was given by David Butler as part of the School of Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Seminar Series in August 2013.
Eigenvalues are awesome, but students rarely get the chance to see just how supremely awesome they are. In this talk I’ll tell you some awesome truths about eigenvalues that you don’t get to see in first year, and show you their proofs, which happen to contain some of the most clever magic tricks in the whole of maths.
To view the prezi from the seminar on Prezi.com, follow this link: Eigenvalue Magic Tricks on Prezi.com
To download a pdf version of the handout, which contains more cool eigenvalue proofs than in the seminar, follow this link: Eigenvalue Information and Proofs handout
- Secrets of Alice in Wonderland
This live streaming show was presented by David Butler and Cobi Smith at the Royal Institution of Australia as part of Science Week 2012 and the Great Big Science Read project. To find out more about the show, check out the page on the RiAus website
To view the prezi from the seminar on Prezi.com, follow this link: Secrets of Alice in Wonderland on Prezi.com
To view the video of the seminar on YouTube, follow this link: Secrets of Alice in Wonderland on YouTube