The Math Museum Is Fun!

I never liked math; I’ve never been good at math, but I love New York’s year-old National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). I’ve been there twice – with different sets of grandchildren – and they love it too.

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First Floor

At first, my son (father of two math lovers) didn’t like the sound of taking his kids to visit a math museum. He resisted. I kept saying, “It’s interactive. It’s fun. Think of it as a Math Playground.” I had to drag him there. Then I had to drag him out of the place two hours later. Which is all you really need to know about this two-story, highly imaginative play area with the coolest equipment around. It’s for kids of all ages – including adults – and the only Math Museum in the country.

3Square-Wheeled Trike

Did I understand much of the math behind the exhibits? Not really. But I did enjoy watching kids ride the square-wheeled tricycle on a bumpy track. The smooth ride – according to the employee overseeing the play area — is due to the way the track’s curves keep the wheel axles level.

4Hyper Hyperboloid

Did the child spinning around in the swivel chair understand why the perfectly straight cords came together and formed a beautifully curved surface around him? I doubt it. But he had fun. And didn’t want to get off.

5Coaster Rollers

Coaster Rollers was another big success. Kids pull themselves down a track on rollers that look like acorns, and discover, to their surprise, that the ride is smooth. Even after they are told why, they just love pulling themselves down the track again and again.

Feedback Fractals? Water Frieze? Shape Ranger? Harmony of the Spheres? Human tree? Math Square? Polypaint? Formula Morph? Rather than try and explain these interactive play stations, just take a look at children and adults enjoying them. Then come down yourself with your kids, grandkids, partner and friends and see for yourself.

Weekends are, of course, more family oriented. Weekdays, more geared to children on formally scheduled school trips. The best time to avoid mobs – so you can spend plenty of time with each exhibit — is to arrive during the week after 2 p.m.

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7Feedback Fractals

8Polypaint

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10Math Square

11Harmony of the Spheres

12Formula Morph

13Structure Studio

14Human Tree

15Shape Ranger

Images by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

The Math Museum
11 East 26th Street
10 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days a week.
The Museum closes at 2:30 the first Wednesday of every month.
Phone 212-542-0566
Admission: $15 per adult; $9 children, students and seniors.
There is a surcharge of $1 if tickets are purchased at the door.

About Eleanor Foa Dienstag (105 Articles)
Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a journalist and photojournalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., McCall's,Travel & Leisure, Frequent Flyer, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of two nonfiction books: a memoir, "Whither Thou Goest: The Story of An Uprooted Wife," acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life; and "In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table," a unique view of a quintessential American company. Both books were promoted with national radio and television appearances. Eleanor served as staff speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of American Express. In 1983, she founded Eleanor Foa Associates (www.eleanorfoa.com). It provides a wide variety of corporate services, including annual reports, executive speeches, corporate histories and marketing materials for profit and not-for-profit organizations. Eleanor is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), received speechwriting awards from IABC, and was awarded literary residencies at Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She resides in Manhattan.