Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buffalo Mao Rides Again

Native American mathematician Buffalo Mao is once again blazing the way to excellent math fun. The 27 arithmetic blocks in this set are accompanied by the latest offering from Mineral Comix. The booklets (one the size of the top of the cube-stacked block set, the other about 2 1/2 inches square, shirt pocket-sized) come in the box with the blocks . There are twelve kinds of blocks and 36 math symbols in this set. Even with no suggestions of games or activities the 36 pages of definitions and somewhat crazed illustrations still manage to evoke a somewhat arithmeticklish worldview.

I mentioned to Kevin that a dove tailed box would be cool, but when I tried to thumbnail the pieces, oy! Later I was trying to use a free UV mapper to wrap peel patterns around some obj blocks. This was much more challenging than all the tutorials suggested. After I fooled around with this for a couple of hours the idea of dovetails seemed much more approachable. I spent quite a while thumb-nailing and then drawing each piece of the box. I used the miter-saw I already had, and improvised a vise (using boards screwed to my portable work-bench with long dry-wall screws). Getting through the dove-tails took several more hours of marking and sawing (while watching TV).

The box came together tight. I wedged it between wood scraps fastened to the bench and belt sanded it smooth, but a little too sharp to hold comfortably (out on the deck). After the belt sanding I considered the next step. Ease the edges of the box? Take it apart and soften all the edges? It fit so well I had to set it aside and think a bit. It was six inches by six inches by six inches and sorta looked like a big block, except for the edges. Maybe just bevel all the edges? Nah, I finally realized that it could be more than a box, it could be a blox!
This time it`s a "Fibonacci blox", only eleven to go eh? The "blox" the arithmetic blocks reside in is my third experiment in dovetails. My friend Kevin`s kids assembled it quickly (with only a minimum of hand wringing on my part).