IBM funds + federal grant = new math exhibit Md. Science Center will house project

April 28, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

Plans for the development of a big new mathematics exhibit at the Maryland Science Center were to get a $495,000 boost today from IBM.

The IBM grant, including $440,000 in cash and $55,111 in computer equipment, will augment a $843,641 federal grant announced yesterday by the National Science Foundation in support of the project, called "Language of Patterns."

Dr. Paul J. Hanle, the center's executive director, called the three-year, $1.3 million project "the largest we've ever done," and one of the largest in the nation.

The announcement was planned as part of Maryland Science Week, which includes a variety of displays, events and activities across the state.

Buell Duncan, general manager for IBM Maryland, said, "IBM has long recognized the need for initiatives in education."

Its employees in Maryland have established ties to "partner schools," including Dunbar Middle School in Baltimore.

"Through our new partnership with the Maryland Science Center . . . we hope to reach a larger segment of Maryland students," Mr. Duncan said. "We want to impress upon them the importance mathematics will play in their futures."

The new mathematics exhibit will provide visitors to the popular Inner Harbor attraction with opportunities for hands-on activities that will explain basic mathematical problems as they occur in the context of everyday life.

The permanent exhibit will include 3,000 square feet of computer activities, logic puzzles and live presentations. The activities are intended to be free of mathematical jargon and will be designed for all age groups.

Among the topics to be covered are the use of mathematical concepts in art and music and coding theories used in the bar codes on supermarket products and in communications with space satellites.

The mysteries of mathematical knot and chaos theories will be explained in ways that visitors can relate to modern genetics, chemistry and weather forecasting.

The uses of mathematics in mapping, ecological studies and such planning activities as the siting of fire stations will be among the many other exhibits and activities to be designed and built.

Planners and backers hope the exhibit, and a traveling version that will visit eight other cities each year, will inspire young people to pursue careers in science and mathematics.

"We are in a war for America's future," said Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, whose appropriations subcommittee funds the National Science Foundation. The federal grant is intended to "spark interest in our children for math and science so they will become scientists, engineers, mathematicians, doctors and researchers tomorrow."

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