Friday, December 21, 2007

The mathematics of square dancing

The Montessori method calls for students to use all their senses and their bodies to learn math. Sounds good if you're in Kindergarten.

But Math Professor David Schmitz of North Central College in Napierville, IL teaches a class called the Mathematics of Square Dancing, where students learn group theory, permutations, and other math concepts by moving their bodies. North Central now even sports a square dancing club, called the Square Roots.

To quote Professor Schmitz, "It's math in motion: you're walking through mathematics and would have no idea you're working with concepts that most college math majors don't study until their fourth year," adding that dancing is like "solving a Rubik's Cube."

Maybe there is hope after all for the U.S., currently in the bottom 20% among industrialized nations in math performance: we do have one million square dancers.

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