Math to the extreme

Whether we realize it or not, we use math every day, from telling time, to balancing our budget, to cooking and shopping. We visit an exhibit at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas, that uses interactive video games, animated movies and even mountain bikes to show how math impacts our daily lives.


Whether we realize it or not, we use math every day from telling time to balancing our budget to cooking and shopping.

We visit an exhibit at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas, that uses interactive video games, animated movies, and even mountain bikes to show how math impacts our daily lives.

So this exhibit is '2 The Xtreme, MathAlive!'

And it's an exhibit that features all of the math underneath the things we love to do in our everyday lives.

It's all about nature and science and the culture that is math and the people that are behind it, and also the math elements that you don't even realize you're implementing every day.

So here we are in the exhibit, and you start off with this wonderful Sidebot friend.

And they're going to take you through all of the interactive elements of the exhibit, kind of show you all the math elements behind the stuff that you do every day.

Let's go.

So in Boarder Cross, the real challenge here is to figure out just the right angle for your snowboard to not only make the turns you need to make, but also maintain your speed because the steeper the turn you're making, the more acute the turn you make, the more friction you're going to have that slows you down.

But you also need to stay on the course, so there are some turns you have to make.

So this is a great area, too, because you have Ramp It Up, which is all about skateboards and the type of optimization that you need to do your tricks.

So it's a really cool interactive basis where you have this video.

You can learn more about that.

This type of interactive here is all about, like, civil engineering.

So that's the great thing about this exhibit, is that it's all math-oriented, but math applies to so many elements.

Here you get to make a building, and you get to learn about the ratio of the weight and the width.

And you can make roller coasters, all sorts of fun things like that, and it kind of applies how those math and civil engineering type of applications are used.

And it kind of highlights the whole family of things that you may not understand or realize that math was behind it.

That's what's so great about this.

This interactive exhibit demonstrates the math behind motion pictures by freezing and creating a 360-degree panorama from a single moment in time.

In this particular interactive, you can also, while you're here, cut out half of the cameras.

So in this 360 shot, there are 20 cameras around this top ring.

They all take your picture at the exact same time, and then the computer puts those together into a video, so it looks like one camera panning around...


...while you're frozen, but really, it's 20 still shots making a movie.


And then when you're looking at it on the screen here, you can actually cut out half of those cameras, and when you do, it starts looking really different.

So, a tessellation is an infinitely repeating pattern with all of the parts in that pattern fitting together perfectly.

There's some famous art, especially by M.C.

Escher, that uses tessellations.

And here what we have are these really cool mirrors and shapes that you can use to build your own tessellation.

And if you get down at the right level, you can actually see what it would look like infinitely repeated.


So here we are Flicker Fusion.

It's definitely a favorite for all the families that come here and my favorite because I love 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.'


And I am so interested how that stop-action-motion happens, and Sarah does a great job of explaining it for us.

So when we animate something, our eyes are taking in several pictures at once.

And when it's going fast enough, more than 24 flashes per second, it's so fast our brain can't tell separate images apart.

They actually use this a lot in any sort of movie or animation, and when it goes that fast, it starts to look super smooth.


And you can get a really cool image.

And here with Flicker Fusion, you can control how often the light flashes, how fast the platform spins, which gives you the really deep understanding of what speeds things need to be moving at to trick your brain into believing it's smooth live-action.

So, when kids and adults come to the Witte, especially in this exhibit, what's really cool is they may not realize how much they're learning.

They go through, and all they know is they're having a great time.

They're making memories.

They're getting, like, all of their wiggles out with all the family.

But then when they walk away, they actually are thinking about all the things they learned and they may not realize it.

And that's what so great about education here, is that you're learning with everything you're doing.

If you're designing a video game in here, you're implementing math, but you're playing a video game.

That's awesome.

So we brought this exhibit here really to help tell that story of nature and science and culture here in Texas, and how these things are part of our lives.