Monday, April 12, 2010

Brick by Brick and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning (Mathematical Mondays)

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. 
-Albert Einstein
What is spacial-temporal reasoning? Well first of all, the meaning of each word:

spa·tial [spey-shuhl] –adjective
1. of or pertaining to space. 2. existing or occurring in space; having extension in space
tem·po·ral [tem-per-uhl] –adjective
1. of or pertaining to time.
rea·son·ing [ree-zuh-ning] –noun
1. the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

The best web definition I could find explains spacial-temporal reasoning in this way,

"Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize spatial patterns and mentally manipulate them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations. This ability is important for generating and conceptualizing solutions to multi-step problems that arise in areas such as architecture, engineering, science, mathematics, and art." 

Spacial-temporal reasoning is something that is obviously quite important to mathematics. You have probably heard about it in terms of IQ tests and the SAT exam, but the ability extends much further than the sphere of geometry and puzzles.

Spatial-temporal reasoning is, in fact, everything in mathematics. It is geometry and trigonometry, all the way down to the ability to mentally manipulative two plus two and come to the conclusion of four.

So today I wanted to talk about something that Hunter has really been into these past few days, which is the Brick by Brick game by ThinkFun. It is a little five-piece puzzle that is a lot harder than it looks!

I introduced the game a couple of days ago and at first, he didn't really "get it". After explaining to him how it worked and him still not seeming too interested, I sort of walked him through the first puzzle and showed him how its done and, viola! It had this sort of magic effect that made him want to repeat and repeat and repeat it - building and rebuilding the same puzzle, of course.

The goal of the game is to make a symmetrical, criss-crossed wall out of the five "brick-like" pieces shown to the left. The game comes with sixty puzzles for you to try and figure out how to build, and that is only the beginning.

He seems addicted to his own success. So far, he has figured out how to build two of the puzzles, and keeps building and rebuilding them and asking me to do the same (which is not always so easy).

It is wonderful to aid in the development of spatial-temporal reasoning: Visualizing what needs to be done, manipulating it both physically and mentally, looking ahead at the next step to the solution, and seeing the whole problem as a whole. And best of all? It's really fun.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Matthew 11:25
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

1 comment:

  1. I am writing a paper for my Philosophy class about this subject. I have been having a hard time grasping the concept of what it is about. Your blog actually explained it better than anything else I have looked up, thank you so much! You little boy is a doll btw!


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