Welcome to the 142nd edition of the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival — a smorgasbord of delectable tidbits of mathy fun. It’s like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to high school.
Bookmark this post, so you can take your time browsing.
Seriously, plan on coming back to this post several times. There’s so much playful math to enjoy!
By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle/activity in honor of our 142nd edition. But if you’d rather jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.
Activity: Planar Graphs
According to the OEIS Wiki, 142 is “the number of planar graphs with six vertices.”
What does that mean?
And how can our students play with it?
A planar graph is a set of vertices connected (or not) by edges. Each edge links two vertices, and the edges cannot intersect each other. The graph doesn’t have to be fully connected, and individual vertices may float free.
Children can model planar graphs with three-dimensional constructions using small balls of playdough (vertices) connected by toothpicks (edges).
Let’s start with something smaller than 142. If you roll four balls of playdough, how many different ways can you connect them? The picture shows five possibilities. How many more can you find?
Sort your planar graphs into categories. How are they similar? How are they different?
A wise mathematician once said, “Learning is having new questions to ask.” How many different questions can you think of to ask about planar graphs?
Play the Planarity game to untangle connected planar graphs (or check your phone store for a similar app).
Or play Sprouts, a pencil-and-paper planar-graph game.
For deeper study, elementary and middle-school students will enjoy Joel David Hamkins’s Graph coloring & chromatic numbers and Graph theory for kids. Older students can dive into Oscar Levin’s Discrete Mathematics: An Open Introduction. Here’s the section on planar graphs.