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Tangible Math

The Mathematics Technology/CRMSE Innovation Lab at SDSU

With the growth of the embodied cognition movement, questions about the relationship between the learning of mathematics and haptic and kinesthetic activity have been illuminated. The lab is a venue where purchased instruments can be experimented with and new devices may be fabricated as we endeavor to create experiences rich in haptic and kinesthetic engagement for users.
The lab contains:

  1. Instruments for creating math and science related devices intended to engage users in haptic (sense of touch: force, vibration, texture, etc.) and kinesthetic (aspects of body motion) activities for learning and teaching mathematics.
  2. Instruments for creating mathematical art
  3. The devices we have created to engage users in haptic and kinesthetic activities for learning mathematics and science


  • Laser cutter: a high voltage laser is used to cut materials such as wood and acrylic with intricate detail and/or a high level of precision. This was used to create the spirograph mentioned below, Alberti’s Window, and the Dandelin Spheres Ellipse Sculpture
  • 3D Printer: using support and model materials, 3 dimensional tools, parts, and artwork are produced
  • 3D router: with a 3 axis system, this router allows one to carve out 3 dimensional pieces
  • Embroidery and sewing machine: for creating mathematical art (e.g. quilts with geometric designs, etc.)
  • Global Positioning System (gps): Many potential uses, currently used for creating large scale transformations (dilations, reflections, rotations, etc.)
  • Wireless Dynamic Sensor System (WDSS): provides the capability to measure 3 axes of acceleration, force, and altitude
  • Craft Robo: a precision cutting device typically used to make decals and stickers. This was used to cut out the templates for students’ string art in one project.


  • Line Becomes Motion (LBM) tracks: also known as math cars, two cars are connected to a computer interface which tracks distance, velocity, and acceleration with dynamic graphs
  • Alberti’s Window: a drawing pane used for creating linear perspective and investigating projective geometry
  • Angle sweeper: like a large protractor, used for investigating/experiencing geometric theorems
  • Spirograph:  based on the geometric toy, it produces mathematical curves using gears
  • Desargue’s theorem model: a model built to explore Desargue’s theorem in 3D and large scale
  • Dandelin Spheres ellipse sculpture

At SDSU, the Mathematics Technology/CRMSE Innovation Lab is located in the Physics Astronomy building, room 117 (PA 117). For more info or to schedule a visit, contact Bohdan Rhodehamel (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).