Google Geek Street

Department of Mathematics Channels its Inner Geek at the Distillery District Geek Street Fair Powered by Google

On July 24th the Toronto Distillery District was transformed into the Geek Street Fair powered by Google! Various educational organizations showcased interactive displays of math and science related problems and concepts. Over 700 students of different ages from all over Toronto visited the Geek Fair and the Department of Mathematics of the University of Toronto was there as well! We offered interactive online games of pool and chess and our volunteers – U of T alumni, undergraduates and even high school students – we were there to tell the students about mathematical concepts behind the puzzle of the Towers of Hanoi, and the game of pebbles.

The age of the guests at our booth ranged from 5 to 14, and all students who visited our booth were able to learn from the offered activities. Younger students appreciated learning the game of chess for the first time, exercising their mental mathematics skills while playing the game of pebbles, developing intuitive understanding of algorithm for solving the Towers of Hanoi and observing the trajectories of the moving balls in the game of pool. Older students were excited to find out that complex math concepts and theories stand behind the puzzles that seem easy from the first glance. They were also thrilled to learn that the Towers of Hanoi puzzle is a common example that university professors use in undergraduate classes to teach mathematical induction. The game of pebbles, in turn, is often used to demonstrate an elementary example of graph theory being used for devising a concrete winning strategy.

Many students were so mesmerized by the puzzles that they did not want to leave our booth! We are looking forward to participating in more outreach events that will have such a great impact on the GTA community as the Geek Street did.

Photos from the event can be found on our Twitter account (@UofTMathDept)