Update: In November 2013, the IFF was devastated by a fire. The damage was extensive and the IFF exhibition space and play tank is closed until further notice.
For the majority of kids, and most adults if they are willing to admit it, math is not the most exciting subject, but the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles uses crafts to give abstract concepts a much-needed tactile element.
Margaret Wertheim, the founder of the Institute For Figuring and renowned mathematician, recognized the need to make math and science easier to understand for kids and adults alike by using a more hands-on approach. To this end she created a center where visitors can literally “play” with math and science concepts in the form of projects ranging from fractal models, to a precisely crocheted coral reef which displays the nature of hyperboles.
The Institute For Figuring also regularly hosts demonstrations, lectures, and activities for their ongoing exhibits. Abstract math and physics can cause real headaches but by mixing the science with crafting, art, and innovation the IFF makes some of those big ideas a bit more manageable.