The California Math Show

The California Math Show is a portable, interactive math exhibit based on the idea of symmetry.

Visitors are encouraged to sit down and do things:
build symmetric polyhedra (another picture) out of snap-together pieces,
make symmetric patterns with pattern blocks, stencils, rubber stamps, computer software;
color symmetric designs,
cut out snowflakes and strings of paper dolls;
get into a huge kaleidoscope (another picture) and become part of a symmetric pattern.

The activities are for people of all levels, from 5-year-olds to research mathematicians. Children often spend over an hour at the exhibit. The activities seem to be equally appealing to girls and boys.

The entire exhibit fits into a station wagon, and can be put up by two people in an hour. Some of the show's materials were developed and adapted especially for the exhibit, but most can be purchased from companies that supply math education materials. In 1996, all the show's written materials are being translated into Spanish, for the benefit of California's many Spanish speakers.

The California Math Show has traveled to schools, museums, teacher education seminars, and youth groups. Currently plans are being made to take the California Math Show to shopping malls, and to mount a replica of the Show as a permanent exhibit at the future Riverside Youth Museum.


Dr. Susan Addington, Associate Professor of Mathematics, California State University, San Bernardino. (

Suzanne Alejandre (past director), Computer teacher, Frisbie Middle School, Rialto, CA.(

Susan Hearn, Math teacher, Redlands High School, Redlands, CA.

Dr. Yasha Karant, Associate Professor of Information and Decision Sciences, California State University, San Bernardino. (


The California Math Show was inspired by the Pop Maths Roadshow, based in Leeds, England, in the early 1990s. In 1995, Addington, Alejandre, and Karant received a planning grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission (federal Eisenhower funds from the Department of Education) to put together this exhibit. During 1995, the show traveled to various locations. In 1996, with Addington's sabbatical in Minnesota, the show is experiencing a temporary hiatus; in fall of 1996, the show will again be available for California appearances.

The California Math Show on the World Wide Web.

Here are some web pages developed by the California Math Show. These are appropriate for teachers to use in the classroom.

The 4 plane symmetries. Explanation of the mathematical meaning of the word "symmetry", and how shapes in the plane can be symmetric.

Reflections. A paper-and-pencil activity about the effect of repeated reflections. Suitable for ages 10 and up.

Symmetric tessellations. Instructions for making Escher-like drawings with a computer drawing program.

Symmetric polyhedra. "Recipe cards" for making all of the most symmetric polyhedra. Download and print the cards and use with snap-together polygons for your own math show. Suitable for ages 7 and up. You will need to make your own polygons out of poster board, or get some Polydrons, 3D Geoshapes, or Googolplex pieces.

Designs with Circles. Activities for making symmetric designs with circles, using a compass. You could also use geometry software such as Geometer's Sketchpad or Cabri.

For more information, or to give comments:

Contact Susan Addington by

e-mail: or

(612) 624-5058 (through summer 1996)
(909) 880-5362 (from fall 1996)

(612) 626-7131 (through summer 1996)
(909) 880-7119 (from fall 1996)

The Geometry Center
1300 South 2nd St., Suite 500
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(through summer 1996)

Math Department
California State University
San Bernardino, CA 92407
(from fall 1996)

Susan Addington's Home Page at the Geometry Center || Susan Addington's Home Page at Cal State San Bernardino