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What is mathematics? Some say the mathematics is what we do in class at school or maybe what mathematicians do but mathematics is much more than that!

A mathematician named Alan Bishop has said that mathematics is counting, measuring, and locating. When you design, explain or play with counting, measuring or locating, you are doing math. This is common to all cultures. If you think of mathematics in this way, you might begin to see it all around you. Be a mathematician and explore playing!

Playing is about devising, and engaging in, games and pastimes, with rules that all players follow. All cultures play and it is an important part of cultural life. Adults play too. Some types of games include:
  • Imaginative games (storytelling, legend etc. judged based on their cleverness, wit and humour)
  • Realistic games (playing with natural objects like playing with pets or mud sliding)
  • Imitative games (natural objects are imitated by movements, gestures, and by string games or children imitating adult activities)
  • Discriminative games (hide-and-seek, guessing games)
  • Disputative games (tug-of-war, wrestling)
  • Propulsive games (with toys involving movement like tops, balls, etc.)
  • Exultative games (music, song, dance, etc.)
Certain kinds of games are quite common around the world. Some examples include:
  • disputative games of exceptional physical ability
  • exultative games of song and dance
  • imaginative games of real situations like hunting.
Imitation or the modelling or reality is a feature of many games. It is modelling that important in mathematics education. Board games and gambling games are also widespread. Chance and gambling games model life's "ups and downs". Playing these games helps players to practice skills of prediction, guessing, estimation, conjecture, wit and humour in a protected atmosphere away from the harsh realities of life and the world.

Playing develops the idea of "game." The playing of games has been the driving force for the development of many mathematical ideas. For your contest entry, here are some other playing ideas that you might choose to explore:
  • Puzzles
  • Paradoxes
  • Modelling
  • Games (One player, two player, team, etc.)
  • Rules
  • Procedures
  • Strategies
  • Prediction
  • Guessing
  • Tension, uncertainty, or chance
  • Hypothetical reasoning (conclude, confirm, consider, deduce, imagine, infer, invalidate, refute, suppose, theoretically, validate etc.)
  • Wit and humour
  • Games analysis

Get creative!

Explore playing and tell me about it through posters, presentations, videos, art projects, or anyway you can think of to “Show Me Your Math!.”


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