MoMath whiz Joshua Brandoff
Joshua Brandoff ’08, MS ’09, thinks science museums only scratch the surface when it comes to teaching children about math. That’s one reason he’s excited to be a key player in an unusual project: a museum of mathematics.
Brandoff is the mathematical programmer and IT specialist for the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), which may be the nation’s only museum to focus exclusively on math.
As a student, Brandoff considered getting a master’s degree and then teaching mathematics-based biology in a high school. But he came to realize that teaching would not be the type of outreach he was looking for.
“I wanted to create a novel, interactive, hands-on experience that would go beyond what I thought would be possible at a regular school,” Brandoff says. “The museum allows me to combine my technical background in bioengineering and systems science with outreach and entrepreneurship.”
The idea for MoMath began with the closing of the Goudreau Museum, a small mathematics museum on Long Island. Brandoff and his colleagues envision MoMath being much larger and more hands-on than Goudreau.
For now, MoMath has a carnival-themed exhibit called Math Midway that is traveling the country; there are plans to move into a building in Manhattan in spring 2012. Brandoff’s duties include managing the museum’s IT infrastructure, programming interactive exhibits for MoMath’s website and coordinating with outside developers on projects for the museum.
The museum’s target audience is middle school-aged children.
“So many kids leave school with ‘bad-dentist’ experiences in math,” Brandoff says. “If you can get through to them in time and plant that seed of excitement about math, it will blossom throughout their lives.”