During the Spring 2020 semester, we continued with our BAMM @ Your School program. We were able to visit three elementary schools in February and March. We had more visits scheduled, but unfortunately, at the moment it seems unlikely that those visits will happen. We are following the appropriate social distancing recommendations to contribute to keep our community healthy.

We visited a 1st grade class at Deer Run Elementary and a 2nd grade class at Wyandot Elementary. On those workshops, students explored polyominoes. They each had a bunch of square tiles, and we started by asking them to take two tiles and put them together so that they share a full side. This was such an easy task that they looked at us intrigued, wondering if that was really all we were asking. Then we asked them to take two more tiles and try to come up with a different way of arranging the tiles, but again so they shared a side. This seemed a more interesting task, but it didn’t take them long to come up with the two different dominoes: vertical and horizontal. They were also able to conclude that a third one cannot be found.

The next task was to repeat the process with 3 tiles and then with 4 too. Some started competing with each other to see who could find more tetrominoes. Some were eager to go to the next step and asked “Can I try with 5 tiles now?”. We gave them a grid paper mat where they drew their findings. The last task was to make rectangles with pentominoes. They could use any they want, but if you’ve ever played tetris, you probably now this task is not as easy as it sounds.

At Glacier Ridge Elementary, we visited a 4th grade classroom and had them play games on graphs. We first talked a little about this other type of graph most of them were not familiar with and explained what a graph coloring is: one where connected vertices are of different colors. Then students chose a partner to play against and were given a board with a graph and some colored chips. To start, the players choose a set of colors to play with. One of the players is the “Maker”, trying to achieve a valid coloring, while the other player is the “Breaker” who is trying to ruin the coloring. However, the Breaker has to respect the coloring rule too, that is, they cannot put a color on a vertex if one of its neighbors already has that color. The players take turns placing a chip on an empty vertex each time.

Students played on different graphs and with different numbers of colors and came up with some winning strategies, sometimes for the Maker and sometimes for the Breaker.

BAMM @ Your School is free and its only subject to time availability. Find more information about the program here. Volunteers are very much welcomed and appreciated. Find out about the upcoming volunteering opportunities, in this and our other programs, and register here.