Back to all news

Exploring Rational Tangles

Workshop Spotlight | April 16, 2018

Rational tangles are powerful ways of representing rational numbers. Through a hands-on investigation involving the manipulation of two strands of rope, you can create any rational number and explore the complexity of the rational number system. As part of our spring course catalog offerings for teachers in the MƒA community, the single session workshop, “Exploring Rational Tangles,” introduced MƒA teachers to the wonders of rational tangles. Teachers participated in a group activity that could be done in the classroom, enabling students to make connections to operations with fractions, reciprocals, identities, and inverses.

Rational tangles have connections to higher level mathematics in areas such as topology, knot theory, continued fractions, greatest common divisors, and group theory. But for MƒA Master Teacher Robert Greenblatt, it’s all the ways he can apply them in his high school mathematics class that led him to leading this workshop. “When I introduced rational tangles to my own students, they loved learning about them and manipulating ropes to create rational numbers – and then ‘undoing’ the numbers they created.” Robert adds, “Because of their enthusiasm and engagement, I thought ‘Exploring Rational Tangles’ would be a perfect fit for my fellow MƒA teachers to bring back to their students.”

Robert says that collaborating with like-minded educators at MƒA has exposed him to new ideas and perspectives that he’s integrated into his own teaching. At MƒA, we believe excellence comes out of deep collaboration and ongoing growth. Professional communities that are built on teacher-to-teacher collaboration leads to new ideas and practices that advance the profession overall. Learn more about the power of the MƒA community.