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The Sixth Games and Puzzles Mini-Conference at the Weizmann Institute of ScienceWednesday, April 21, 2010
Games, mechanical puzzles, riddles, Sudoku - were all abundant at the sixth national conference of games, puzzles and recreational math. The conference, organized by a team of puzzle enthusiasts, was coordinated by the Davidson Institute of Science Education, the educational wing of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and took place on campus on March 16th, 2010.
Dr. Yossi Elran, head of the international, recreational Math-by-Mail program for students, chaired the conference. Members of the organizing committee included Prof. Abraham Arcavi from the math education department at the Hebrew University, Mr. David Goodman - wooden puzzle creator from "mishak-etz" and Mr. Dan Feldman, puzzle enthusiast and collector.
Open a seemingly sealed box
Participants were invited to stroll among the many stalls, put up by puzzlists from all types and flavors, and took part in interactive workshops where challenges of all levels were presented. Among the different stalls were topological, mechanical puzzles where the participant is challenged to open a seemingly sealed box. A topological rope problem "teased" participants to try and hang a picture from an assortment of nails without falling down, while magicians demonstrated math-based feats.
The Rubic's Cube is always a favorite at the conference. World Silver medalist Dror Womberg demonstrated solving the cube – blindfolded! The conference also featured the opening of an art exhibition on the topic of the Rubic's cube by photographer Gadi Dagon. The artwork is currently on display at the Clore Garden of Science in the Weizmann Institute of Science.
A piece of rope and some wire
Participants in the conference were also given "take home" presents: some puzzles and riddles to try at home, including sets of Sudoku, Kakuru and other similar magazines (top left in the above), donated by Conceptis, who were represented at the conference by president Dave Green (top right and bottom left in the above) and Marketing Manager Gil Galanti. Conceptis' magazines were distributed as "take home" presents to the participators.
The math behind juggling
In the lecture session, innovative recreational math and puzzle studies were presented. These included a talk by Israel Prize winner Professor David Harel who spoke about the math behind magic tricks, a talk by Dr. David Ginat on Mathematical Thinking Through Mathematical Games, and a talk by Professor Aviezri Fraenkl who spoke about modifications of the game of Nim. Young talent Yoav Ben-Shalom, a 10th grade student who is already in the midst of a university degree in math, spoke about the math behind juggling, demonstrating throughout the talk amazing juggling feats.
Many other speakers also gave fascinating talks, presentations and demonstrations, including spectacular origami sculptures created by origamists Ilan Garibi and Gadi Vishne and a creative thinking workshop leaded by TV producer, magician and lecturer Yarin Kimor.
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