Math Education Concepts

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Chichen Itza… A Mathematical Enlightenment

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I recently visited Cancun, Mexico and decided to take a tour of Chichen Itza in Yucatan Peninsula (Pictures posted are courtesy of me).  My friend of 20+ years visited Chichen Itza and made the recommendation (thanks Margie).  I did my research and booked the tour.  I was in for a wonderful surprise! 

Although Chichen Itza is breath-taking, and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, what piqued my interest the most is the Mayan contributions to math and their use of math in building El Castillo – The Kukulcan Pyramid.

Here is one really basic fact: there are 4 faces on the pyramid with 91 steps on each face (364 steps).  The top platform counted as a step makes 365 steps in all, the number of days in our calendar year (not including leap year, of course).

We often hear, very loosely, about the contributions ancient civilizations made to math, but we rarely have the opportunity to experience the reality of those contributions.  It was a fantastic vacation and an enriching mathematical experience for me.  Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to visit similar ruins throughout my lifetime.

Have you visited Chichen Itza or another ancient ruin that inspired you?  Please share you experience.

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Author: Math Education Concepts

I am a Co-founder of and Program Coordinator for Math Corps Philadelphia, a combined academic enrichment and mentoring program. I am the author of "Teacher Training Manual: Designed for Secondary Mathematics Teachers of African American Urban Students." I hold a Master of Education degree in Secondary Mathematics and have several years of experience teaching secondary and post-secondary mathematics.

6 thoughts on “Chichen Itza… A Mathematical Enlightenment

  1. We speak of Ruins and I marvel how they still teach us and still hold secrets until we are ready to handle them

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  2. Interesting. The Parthenon is another building that is amazing – the proportions are said to be perfect. And the tombs on the Nile – Abusimbel – are, if I remember correctly, situated so that the sun shines into the deepest recesses on the equinoxes. Something like that 8)

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  3. Pingback: True Time… | CreateWhatYouWant

  4. Pingback: Orbs at Chichen Itza Pyramids in Mexico. | CreateWhatYouWant

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