Yes, YOU Can Host a Playful Math Education Blog Carnival

I had so much fun hosting the 146th Playful Math Education Blog Carnival. Kelly Darke of Math Book Magic will host the 148th Carnival. Probably neither of us should host the 147th Carnival, but YOU most certainly can! By YOU I mean anyone who has ever blogged even just a little bit about math. For example, if you normally blog about art, you could create a carnival that mostly focuses on mathematical art. The same could be said for photography, games, puzzles, storybooks, and so forth.

If now isn’t a good time for you to take on an extra project, remember there are plenty of other months open for you to volunteer!

But how do you host the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival, you ask? First of all, let Denise Gaskins know you would like to host the carnival.

You can also contact her through Twitter:

After you get assigned a month and a carnival number, you should pick a day in the last full week of the month as your goal to publish your carnival.

You might be interested in knowing how I approach creating a carnival:

Number Facts or a Puzzle:

Traditionally you start with some facts or a puzzle about the current carnival number. You can find several facts about your number at Pat Ballew’s Math Day of the Year Facts, Wikipedia, or OEIS.org. Also, check The Carnival of Mathematics which is about 48 numbers ahead of the Playful Math Education Carnival. What interesting facts were written about your number around four years ago in that carnival? You don’t have to be fancy; you can simply state a fact or two about your carnival number.

I, on the other hand, am obsessive. If I were hosting the 147th Carnival I would find as many facts about the number 147 as I could. I would think about all those facts and try to come up with a way to marry my number with something about a carnival, a fair, or even a circus. After a couple of weeks of imagining, I would finally be able to tell you about the great contortionist, Hexahex. Perhaps you’ve heard of his mother, Polly Hex. Hexahex can contort himself into 82 different “free” positions. He wants to stretch himself a little bit and add 65 more “one-sided” positions for a total of 147 “one-sided” positions in his repertoire. He is allowed to count positions that are reflections of the first 82 positions, but only if they aren’t exactly the same or merely a rotation of any of those first 82. Below is a graphic showing those first 82 positions as well as their reflections. Put an X above the 17 positions in the bottom three rows that don’t qualify as different, then count up the rest. You will then see that Hexahex can indeed contort himself 147 ways!

See, I told you I am obsessive! If you host the 147th carnival, you can use my graphic and story about Hexahex if you like. If you don’t want to use it, that’s okay, too!

As Denise Gaskins advised,

You decide how much effort you want to put in. Writing the carnival can take a couple of hours for a simple post, or you can spend several days searching out and polishing playful math gems to share.

I try to start writing a draft of my blog carnival post long before my deadline. I collect pictures (good advice on finding pictures here) and quotations whenever I find something I like, and enter them into my post ahead of time. If I have the framework in place, then all I have to add at the last minute are the blog post links, and the job doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Make sure you have the right to use any image you post. Either create a graphic yourself or find something marked “Creative Commons” — and then follow the CC rules and give credit to the artist/photographer.

I typically use graphics I’ve made or embed tweets from Twitter that just seem to have the perfect picture or quote.

Finding Blog Posts for Your Carnival Through Your Blog’s Reader:

Second, you look for blog posts. I found some blog posts because I subscribe to them, but you can also find blog posts by searching your reader. You may think blogging is dead, but it most certainly isn’t. I blog on WordPress, and its reader is easy to search. The search terms I used included math art, math poetry, math games, math puzzles, math geometry, and math algebra. Here are blog posts I found recently, most of which were written after the last carnival was published. Others were written before my carnival, but somehow I missed finding them before. If you hosted the 147th carnival, you will want to organize the posts into different categories or age groups and write a brief introduction to each post, but you could include as many or as few of these posts as your heart desires as well as other posts that you find. Here’s a bonus: if you also blog on WordPress, as soon as you hit the submit button, then WordPress will let the authors know that their post was included in your carnival! I have not organized these blog posts, but click on any of them that look interesting to you and consider including them in your carnival. If they don’t look interesting, a good introduction written by you might make them appeal to more people.

Finding Blog Posts on Twitter:

Twitter has SO many wonderful, playful ideas about mathematics. Most of them do not come from blog posts, but some of them do. Often when I see a tweet that refers to a math blog post or something else I like, I hit the like button. You can check my Twitter profile to see what appeals to me. Twitter also has a search feature. I’ve searched for individuals that I know who blog. I’ve also used words like “math blog” in my Twitter search to find blog posts I haven’t seen before. Be aware that you may find posts that are old or have no date on them, but plenty of recent blog posts are just waiting for you to find! Also, Denise Gaskins will retweet some blog posts that she’s found. Here are the blog posts I found on Twitter AFTER my carnival was published. Again, if you were hosting the carnival, the posts to include in your carnival would be up to you. You would organize them into different categories or age groups and write a brief introduction for each post.

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That blog post doesn’t appear to be recent, but it did lead me to this one published in May 2021: Accelerate Vs. Remediate.

Embedding tweets on your blog can make the post seem VERY long. I would select a few of my favorite tweets with pictures to embed in the carnival and just use the blog links to take my readers directly to most of the posts.

You can also post a link to your carnival on Twitter with a thank you acknowledging the Twitter handles of people whose blog posts you used. That isn’t a required step, but it will help to get the word out to more people to visit your carnival.

Some Final Steps:

After you’ve organized all the blog posts into different categories or age groups and written briefly about them, stop looking for more blog posts, because there will always be more, and if you don’t stop looking, you will never be finished! It is a good idea to make sure the links you’ve included really do take your readers where you think you are sending them. I admit that I’ve messed up on that detail before.

To finish up, you will want to include a link to the previous playful math carnival and a link to the website of the next carnival, if known. You can find that information here. You will want to include an invitation for others to host future carnivals. It is also courteous to direct your readers to the current edition of the Carnival of Mathematics. Lastly, proofread and publish! Good luck and have fun!

 

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