Math Walks: A Tour

Math Walks is a blog created by secondary math teacher Traci Jackson. It started on March 27th to encourage math discussion on neighborhood walks during the quarantine.  I was so excited to find this blog that brings such a playful atmosphere to learning math.    Inspired by a mom and her kids doing a PE class on a walk, she was inspired to find a way to bring math to daily walks!

“If I could leave a little bit of math on daily walks, I could not only give parents a way to incorporate some math, but maybe I could try and change math into curiosity, wonder and problem solving, even just a little.” – Traci Jackson, in  the About section

As a person who loves going on walks, especially, since this year has been spent a lot in online meetings, I found her blog full of playful invitations to do math.  You may suspect that like my last post, this intersects in wonderful ways with my hobbies and a love for math. And, who doesn’t love playing with chalk?

It was so well received, that translations in French and German are now available. She shares, how excited she is about people creating their own math walks.

I was thrilled to see other people duplicating drawings or creating their own. It was suddenly not just my neighborhood! Although watching my neighbors take pictures and problem solve as family was equally interesting, since almost every time I walked down my street I could see problem-solving in action. I got several texts and a few emails asking “Is that you leaving math everywhere?” I guess I have a reputation.” – Traci Jackson, in  the About section

You can see many walks share by others by following the hashtag #mathwalks on Twitter. If you enjoy puzzles, beware, this blog will have you puzzling the day away.  Below I share some of my favorites puzzles:

“Graphing Stories” based on the website with the same name, which is a collaboration between Dan Mayer and BuzzFeed.


“Climbing Stairs” based on Curriculum Burst 28: Stair Climbing by Dr. James Tanton.

“Crack the Code” based on the Crack the Code Puzzle with Solution by Rajesh Kumar.

In her blog, she provides helpful how-to’s to begin your own math walk.  If you are not great at free-hand drawings you can bring cutouts of the shapes you will use, use string as a compass, and a nice tip is to bring an index card with the problem drawn out.  The puzzles come from a wide variety of sources which you can read more about by clicking on the pictures.

Her blog was also featured in How Sidewalk Math Cultivates a Playful, Curious Attitude Towards Math, in which she remarks, 

“The perception of math is a set of sterile problems but in reality, it describes all the patterns of our world. … [Sidewalk math] opens the conversation to what math is. It engages people who wouldn’t do math ordinarily,” Jackson said. She believes that the visual element plays a role in that engagement. Stanford professor Jo Boaler has advocated for the learning benefits of visual math for years, but Jackson said it remains an under-explored dimension of math instruction. Though we often think of math as numbers and letters, Jackson sees it as a way of viewing the world, and using images can unlock new connections.” – From How Sidewalk Math Cultivates a Playful, Curious Attitude Towards Math

I couldn’t agree more! What a wonderful way to share math with your community. So, this Spring, take your math for a stroll, and if you bring your chalk with you, share it with your neighborhood.

Have an idea for a topic or a blog you would like for me and Rachel to cover in upcoming posts? Reach out in the comments below or on Twitter (@VRiveraQPhD).

About Vanessa Rivera-Quinones

Mathematics Ph.D. with a passion for telling stories through numbers using mathematical models, data science, science communication, and education. Follow her on Twitter: @VRiveraQPhD.
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