Vi Hart: Bending and Stretching Classroom Lessons to Make Math Inspire
See the referenced article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/science/18prof.html
Vi Hart’s awesomely entertaining videos of fun yet educative math doodling went viral late last year. (Those links also made their way to SmartBean’s facebook page). Her recent tale of ill-fated lovers on a mobius strip is currently doing the rounds on the internet. We thought it would be nice to also share this recent feature on Ms. Vi(ctoria) Hart – the young, creative, “mathemusician” behind the Vi Hart videos – that appeared in the NY Times.
Here’s an excerpt from the article that serves as an inspiration for youngsters, especially girls, who enjoy a love of art and math-
“The summer Ms. Hart was 13, she tagged along with her father to a computational geometry conference. “And I was hooked, immediately,” she said. “It was so different from school, where you are surrounded by this drudgery and no one is excited about it. Any gathering of passionate people is fun, really no matter what they’re doing. And in this case, it was mathematics.”
After finishing her music degree — as a senior, she composed and conducted a seven-part musical piece based on the seven Harry Potter books — “I couldn’t focus on one thing or ever see myself fitting into any little slot where I would have some sort of normal job,” Ms. Hart said. “If I want to spend a week carving fruit up into polyhedra, I want to spend a week carving fruit up into polyhedra, and where am I going to get a job doing that?”
She did indeed spend a week carving fruit into polyhedrons, posting photographs and instructions on her Web site, vihart.com.
Last summer, she became enamored of hyperbolic planes, mathematical surfaces that are typically represented as horse saddles or Pringles chips.
Whereas others make bracelets or necklaces out of beads, Ms. Hart constructed hyperbolic planes out of them. She painted images of hyperbolic planes. She dried slices of fruit, which warped into hyperbolic planes.
“It just wiggles all over the place,” she said of a hyperbolic plane. “People don’t think of it that way, as being like a wild and beautiful thing.”
Such mathematical musings drew modest amounts of interest. In the fall, she was looking over some of her doodles. She thought of taking photographs of them and writing instructions for those, too, but she decided to try something different. She made her first doodling video.
Working by herself, practically embracing a camera on a tripod, she created a video of her doodling seemingly from the point of view of the doodler.
“I want a real first-person view,” she said, “because I want people to feel they can do this. People can. It’s mathematics that anyone can do.”
The ensuing attention has come with job offers and an income. In one week in December, she earned $300 off the advertising revenue that YouTube shares with video creators. She is also happy that, unlike in her early efforts, which drew an audience typical of mathematics research — older and male, mostly — the biggest demographic for her new videos, at least among registered users, are teenage girls.
“I just think that’s really awesome,” she said, “because you’ve got girls in middle school and high school who are suddenly enjoy mathematics and enjoying being a little nerdy and smart, and we need that.”
Ms. Hart has not decided her next step. She could accept one of the job offers. She has thought of pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics, although she worries about all the undergraduate courses she would need to catch up on.
“What has become clear just recently is that I have options, and it’s very strange,” she said.
Ultimately, she hopes she can be a Martin Gardner for the Web 2.0 era. Mr. Gardner, who died last year at age 95, wrote mathematics columns for Scientific American and other publications. “I want to be the ambassador of mathematics,” she said.”