MoMath: Music, STEM, and Marcus G. Miller

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Marcus G. Miller

This is how Plato put it: “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

Another philosopher, Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington, meant the same thing when he said: “Don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
The National Museum of Mathematics will explore the inseparable, co-dependent relationships between creativity, music, and math. This Saturday’s, February 4, program, THE LANGUAGE OF STEM, (https://in.momath.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=900) will bring together working musicians and a veteran mathematician to show, tell, and talk about these connections.
The Museum is located at the north end of Madison Square (the east park, not the arena) near the original Shake Shack and the Flatiron building. The program will start at 6pm. You should make your best effort to be there because rarely will you have a more accessible, enjoyable, understandable, and economical way to study math.
Math understanding and math instruction are at near all-time lows in New York City. According to last year’s high stakes testing exercise, barely half of our 3rd-8th grade students are at acceptable levels of math achievement. And for the non-white majority of public school students, less than one in three can do the basics.
This crisis situation increases the importance of out-of-school efforts at math education. By the time the complex political and social determinants of education are resolved, it may be too late for some children now in failing schools.
In this context the Museum of Math (MoMath) is the right program at the right time. Surprisingly, in a world with multiple natural history, and science museums, MoMath is the first such institution devoted to the advancement of math as its primary mission.
The museum understands how engaging students is a must and that keeping it real and rigorous can be fun. Puzzles, paper folding, beads, and pipe cleaners hold the kids interest (and are a much needed break from tablet/pad/phone screen over exposure.) the children won’t mind that these devices are pathways to understanding algorithms, geometry, and hyperbolic parabolas.
These activities can allow you to “leap frog” over the deficiencies of the public school curriculum.
The featured presenters for the evening will be rising saxophonist Marcus G. Miller and distinguished mathematician Dr. William A. Massey.
Mr. Miller is the rare combination of Harvard University graduate, math major, and touring jazz bandleader. Post-graduation, he put down his music to take a job in the word of high finance. He eventually returned to his saxophone, and this allows the program to start with a certified “math nerd.” Check out his take on Drake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6rKsR4xz_0
This might be the event that catalyzes a young person’s livelong engagement with math, self sufficiency, and creativity.

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