The Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would like to invite you to our winter math carnival! Gathering for Gardner will be held on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 2 - 5 pm in Altgeld Hall.

This fun filled day will be packed with hands on activities, demonstrations, games and puzzles, refreshments, and mathematical prizes for participants! We will have activities for members of the public of all ages.

Check out our flyer!

Memories from our 2014 Gathering for Gardner.

This year's featured booths include:


All aboard to estimation station! How many chocolate chips are in a chocolate chip cookie? Which has more surface area: a cat or a sea otter? How far is it from the earth to the moon? Learn how to use geometry to improve your estimation skills and answer questions like these! Earn prizes by taking on our estimation challenge!


Despite their unimposing coppery facades, pennies are the best and most versatile coin in circulation: you can stack them, slide them, flip them, and arrange them! As you work your way through our series of penny puzzle challenges, you will explore game strategy, spatial reasoning, and learn to think outside the box.


At the tile emporium you will work to fit familiar pieces together in new ways. Can you create a large square with 1 L-shaped tile and 1 square tile? What if you were given 5 L-shaped tiles and 1-square tile? As we work through numerous puzzle challenges - building more and more complicated images - we will discover the art of mathematical induction!


Frequently asked questions:

Who can I contact about Gathering for Gardner? Feel free to email organizers Melinda Lanius at lanius2@illinois.edu or Philipp Hieronymi at phierony@illinois.edu .

Who is the target audience of your event? All activities are free and open to the public and there is no math training required to enjoy! Our puzzles are particularly designed for kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school students. Please come visit us and bring the whole family!

Why `Gathering for Gardner’? Our event is to honor the achievements of popular mathematics writer Martin Gardner who, for over 50 years, entertained general audiences with a rich variety of mathematical puzzles.

Can you give me an example of a Martin Gardner math riddle?

Time the Toast for Tea
Even the simplest of household tasks can present complicated problems in operational research. Consider the preparation of toast for tea. The toaster is the old-fashioned type, with hinged doors on its two sides. It holds two pieces of bread at once but toasts each of them on one side only.

To toast both sides it is necessary to open the doors and reverse the slices. It takes three seconds to put a slice of bread into the toaster, three seconds to take it out and three seconds to reverse a slice without removing it. Both hands are required for each of these operations, which means that it is not possible to put in, take out, or turn two slices simultaneously. Nor is it possible to butter a slice while another slice is being put into the toaster, turned, or taken out. The toasting time for one side of a piece of bread is thirty seconds. It takes twelve seconds to butter a slice.

Each slice is buttered on one side only. No side may be buttered until it has been toasted. A slice toasted and buttered on one side may be returned to the toaster for toasting on its other side. The toaster is warmed up at the start. In how short a time can three slices of bread be toasted on both sides and buttered?

We would like to thank our sponsors:

A puzzle in a sense models what all scientists are doing. They are trying to solve puzzles about the nature of the universe. Puzzles can lead you into almost every branch of mathematics.

- Martin Gardner