Alpha's Adventures in Mathematics

Volume One: Chapter Eight


It's been a LONG journey across land and sea, but Alpha is finally in Toronto and ready to meet Pam and start his new life in his forever home. What will it be like? Will it be nice? Who else will be there? Will he get distracted by some fascinating math shapes along the way?

Find out in our final chapter...

Chapter 8: My Forever Home

As we exited the train there was a group of people standing on the platform looking at all of us. Each person in the group had a picture of one dog and one by one people came up to EK and June, showed them the picture and were led to their dog. After a brief introduction they walked away. It was finally happening.

After our long, LONG, trip, we were finally going to our forever homes!

I scanned the group, wondering who was there for me and trying to figure out who it might be. Then, at the very end of the line I saw a woman wearing a necklace with a really cool math shape in it and I wondered what it was.

The outside shape had 12 faces, while the one inside had 8. I remembered learning that 3D shapes like this often ended with the term “hedron” and that the different number of faces had different names.

tetrahedron had 4 faces and an icosahedron had 20 faces. Thinking really hard, I also remembered that the prefix, or front part of the word, for 10 faces was deca, 12 faces was dodeca, and 8 faces was octa.

The shapes Alpha saw on the woman's necklace...

Help Alpha

Using the information Alpha remembers about naming shapes can you name the two shapes above? 

Answer: dodecahedron and octahedron

From Pam

The two shapes on the necklace are very special 3D shapes!

Each face is made of exactly the same shape. The octahedron is all triangles (3 sides) and the dodecahedron is all pentagons (5 sides).

These special shapes are called Platonic solids (named after a famous Greek philosopher named Plato), and there are only 5 of them!

What's cool is that Plato also assigned elements to each:

Tetrahedron - 4 faces (fire)

Cube - 6 faces (earth)

Octahedron - 8 faces (air)

Dodecahedron - 12 faces (universal force)

Icosahedron - 20 faces (water)

Try At Home

Mathematicians use nets to build 3D shapes like the ones above. A net is an expanded view of the shape. Here are the nets for the shapes in the woman's necklace:

Using scissors and glue you can cut out various nets and put them together to make your very own 3D shapes.

Try it out at home by downloading our Platonic solids geometry net worksheets found here.  The nets in the printable sheets have little flaps you can fold and glue so the shape stays together!

Explore More

You can also explore Platonic solids in more detail (including spinning them around) here.

Mathigon also has a great section on Platonic solids

I was so fascinated by the necklace that I didn’t even notice that by the time she got to the front of the line all the other dogs had been paired with a human.

Could this be it?

Could this be my human?

Could the lady with the math necklace be my forever human?

It turned out she was!

She had a picture of me and everything!

When she bent down, I looked at EK and June, not sure what to do. 

But then the lady offered me her hand to sniff; she smelled like pencils and chalk. I wondered why…

Then, after a few seconds, she reached up and patted me on the top of the head.

Hi there, AlphaMy name’s Pam and I’d like to give you a forever home! Would you like that?

After all I’d been through, the alley, the shelter, the plane, the train, I thought going home with this person didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

So Pam thanked EK and June and away we went.

Bye Alpha! We’ll miss you. Enjoy your new home, and remember to keep exploring

It turned out that our new home was pretty close to the train station, just a short walk. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was how nice and warm it was. There was so much space, a food and water bowl just for me, and toys and treats and… and… everything I had dreamed of.

On further inspection, there wasn’t even a cage.

It seemed pretty good at first glance.

As I was getting settled, I noticed that Pam and I weren’t the only ones in the house. Up the stairs, staring at me from between the railings was a huge, fluffy, black, white, and orange cat!

Pam introduced her as Fibonacci. She then picked me up and showed me an aquarium up on a high shelf where something slithered along, and Pam told me her name was Sierpinski.

I’d never seen a snake before, but she seemed to be secured in her box, and it didn’t look like it was easy for her to get out.

I also wasn’t sure about living with a cat as I’d always heard we were supposed to be mortal enemies. As I looked at Fibbonaci, wondering what would happen, she gave me a sideways glance and then headed back up the stairs. Guess I’d have to introduce myself later.

I’d never seen so many things that were just mine before and it looked like the cat had her own toys so I wouldn’t even have to share with her.

After I explored the whole house, twice, I came back down to where Pam was and she told me all about herself...

She’d been waiting to have a canine friend, just like me, for a very long time. Having me here made her so happy, and she hoped we would be the best of friends.

One of her great passions was seeing math in everything around her. She went to school, studied math and science, and how to teach it to others. She also knows a lot of people so, if she doesn’t know how something works or the math behind it, she’s got lots of experts who can help explain it.

She told me that the adoption ladies had mentioned my curiosity and she was looking forward to teaching me all sorts of new things and that if I wanted to learn anything all I had to do was ask!

This was going to be great!

I couldn’t wait to go out and explore my new neighbourhood, but soon I started to yawn and Pam lead me to a room with a big comfy bed and told me it was all mine. So I curled up and fell right to sleep and began to dream of all the adventures I was sure to have.

That's all for Alpha's First Adventure, and how he found his forever home! Not to worry though, we're working on brand new adventures for Alpha to have including making a garden, exploring the city, and getting to know more about Fibonacci (will they be best friends or mortal enemies - or somewhere in between) and Sierpinski...

So come back often to see what new adventures Alpha is on. And make sure to check out some of our other content, with more added all the time. Oh, and don't forget, if you like what we're doing, to give Alpha a treat so we can keep making great content!

Oh, and here's a picture of Alpha and Pam in our garden (check out the necklace)...

We hope you enjoyed our story!

If you like what we're doing please Give Alpha a Treat! 

Right now we are trying very hard not to charge for Alpha's Adventures in order to make sure everyone can have access, but we need your help!  

Learn more on our Give Alpha a Treat page...

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