[James Tanton] was codirector of The Math Circle, an after-school math activity program for Boston-area students ages 5 to 18. A former Milton Academy teacher, he is currently teaching at St. Mark's School in Southborough, and working to create the school's Institute of Mathematics, which offers activities and workshops to the community. In 2001, the Mathematical Association of America published his book, "Solve This: Mathematical Activities for Students and Clubs." His next book, "The Encyclopedia of Mathematics" will be released in the fall. In an interview with Globe correspondent Cyra Master, he spoke about ways to make math understandable to children and fun.
A. The real reason I wrote [the book] is that I believe mathematics, even complex mathematics, is accessible to all. I call it a math club book because it uses objects that are very familiar to show the deep math hidden behind simple ideas. The book contains 30 activities using things like a bagel, folded laundry, playing cards, coins, bits of string. It's using stuff that makes math accessible and non-threatening.