Sunday, March 02, 2008

Paper Boats and Mathematics

I was delighted when from Professor Borovik's post--Mathematical Games-- something from my "childhood" brought a wave of pleasant memories. From the link I found the little gem titled "Paper Boat".

The mathematics behind the boat was the last thing on my mind, as I quickly found a paper and tried to see whether I remembered how to make the boat (without looking at the site). Indeed a surprised laugh escaped me as I found that I was able to do such a thing!
We used to make them when I was in primary school, so about 11 or 12 years ago. (Wow-that makes me feel old!) I don't know who "taught" me about this, but if I was to write the word "chatter box" would it ring a bell? Google doesn't seem to be familiar with such a thing, but on rainy days went we weren't allowed outside, chatter boxes were one of the many things we made to amuse ourselves. (Oh and the game rock, paper and scissors is a past time favourite too). That post has me going back to lala land, but it brings with it pleasant feelings! Anyway the point about chatter boxes is that in the process of making boats, you first make the chatter box. Then it is up to you whether or not you want to take it further.

Unable to resist the temptation, what do you think I did with my boat? As a child we used to colour them and the standard skulls and crossbones could be found on their sides. Now, still a child I hope(!), I lamely added some mathematics to the boat (well some symbols); found something to represent "me" i.e. a sweet (don't ask!) and headed for the deep blue waters. In my excitement I forgot to take the standard safety measures, i.e. my life jacket. I had no idea whether or not my boat was going to sink, but the miniature bean could always be saved by the larger bean!

So what do you think happened? It seemed that the miniature bean after all, had to watch out for the larger bean, once reaching safe lands again. (Well if you have a sweet, how would you celebrate its successful journey around the globe?)

The epic journey came to an end when I got bored watching the boat float around, and when my eyes found themselves staring at the small bean. It's safe to say that the boat was brought in, discarded to the side, and the sweet found itself a new home. (It is also safe to assume that as a child I wouldn't have been bored that easily, especially if there was more than one boat creators!)

Now erm... to the mathematics behind the boat. Well I did post the link, so just follow it! Do you remember any games or activities you used to play as a child? (I can assure you that there are many more, but I won't bore you with my reminiscing. Come to think of it, someone said that word to me during the week but I can't for the life of me remember who and why. Grrr).

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