Mechanical puzzles provide beautiful challenges that can involve assembly or disassembly, geometric arrangement, and logical and spatial thinking. They often require the solver to think "outside the box" and find creative solutions to problems that at first seem impossible. They thereby encapsulate in microcosm what many scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and other professionals do every day. In a classroom, puzzles can be wonderful ways to introduce students to the joy of persevering with a problem and then feeling the "Aha" of satisfaction that leads them to seek deeper challenges. In this event, sculptor and mathematician George Hart will share the joy of some of his favorite puzzles and explain why it is important for more people to be familiar with them. This will be followed by a hands-on period in which participants can play with a collection of puzzles he brings [and build a small puzzle to take home].
George Hart is a mathematician and sculptor whose artwork is exhibited at many galleries and universities around the world. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Hart's research explores innovative ways to use mathematical ideas and computer technology in the design and fabrication of sculpture, plus new ideas for enriching the mathematics classroom. He recently retired from his position as research professor in the computer science department at Stony Brook University and moved to the Owen Sound area. Hart was a co-founder of the Museum of Mathematics in New York City and is the author of two books and many technical publications. For examples of his work, see georgehart.com.