On Saturday morning, Glen Whitney of St. James expects to feel like Willy Wonka on the day the fictional candy-maker opened the doors of his chocolate factory for the first time to a group of gobsmacked children in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Whitney is scheduled to throw open the doors to his long-awaited Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan, welcoming children to be just as astonished by more than 30 interactive exhibits over two floors at 11 E. 26th St. in midtown.
The target age for the museum is fourth through eighth grades, though the exhibits have more advanced explanations for older visitors. School classes can also take field trips to the museum; interested teachers should write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are five of the exhibits visitors will experience on a visit to the museum. --Beth Whitehouse
Each of the 45 metal sheets in this wall-mounted collection has a series of hairline grooves that make the portrayed object -- knots, seashells, geometric shapes -- appear three-dimensional when the light hits them. Glen Whitney, one of the founding staff members of the Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan, calls them "computed holograms" created using mathematical formulas. (Nov. 27, 2012)
Kids learn about parabolas in middle school -- the U-shaped arc that is formed, for instance, when you throw a ball into the air and then it descends. The museum has built a two-story structure that lights up to show kids a surprising pattern that occurs in a parabola. "It looks like a beautiful sculpture," said Glen Whitney of St. James and one of the founding staff members of the Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan. But it's at the same time an algebra exhibit, he says. "This is sort of a multiplying machine made out of a parabola."(Nov. 27, 2012)
Differently shaped objects -- bullets, pyramids, etc. -- work together to allow a seat to roll down a pathway. A child can sit in the seat and learn that because the objects beneath share "constant diameters," the seat rolls smoothly. "You wouldn't know it's not balls under there," said Glen Whitney, of St. James and one of the founding staff members of the Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan. (Nov. 27, 2012)
Wall of Fire
This light-up exhibit shows what a cross-section of an object would look like; visitors can stick an object through the plane of red laser light to see a slice of it. "This highlights a relationship that is important to understand when interpreting CT scans, for instance," said Cindy Lawrence, of Port Jefferson Station and the associate director of the Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan. (Nov. 27, 2012)
You can enter the retail shop at the Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan from the street without paying admission to buy mathematically based puzzles and games, as well as museum souvenirs.
The Museum of Mathematics -- Mo Math -- is seen here on 26th Street between Fifth and Madison in Manhattan. (Nov. 2011)