Mathematics has always been considered a
dreadful subject and you might not have heard the word phobia associated with
other subjects except Mathematics. The main reason is we fail to associate
mathematics with the daily life situation. A concept can only be termed as
permanent if it attracts the learner. Since the birth of an individual we start
calculating weight, timing, diameter of head etc. that is nothing but a part of
hidden mathematics but as we grow, we start hating mathematics despite the fact
that it is the integral part of every individual.
Now to link mathematics with the daily life
situation, to engage the students to have a feeling of exploring the knowledge
by doing a concept of laboratory has been introduced in curriculum. The
mathematics laboratory is a palace where anybody can experiment and explore
patterns and ideas because mathematics is nothing but the pattern recognition,
playing with numbers to enjoy the inner beauty of mathematics.
A world where student can discover what
mathematics is all about and explore the previous knowledge to give a new
breakthrough by means of games, puzzles, three dimensional objects, theorem in
geometry etc. All such activities create interest among students who wants to
explore and test some of their ideas, beliefs about mathematics. It provides
and opportunity to discover through doing. The activities help students to
visualize, manipulate and reason out conjectures and test them, and to
generalize observed patterns. It is a place where anyone can generate problems
and struggle to get an answer, design new mathematical activities.
Saying all the above, I am of the opinion that
mathematics is omnipresent and it can’t be learnt in a confined area that is
now termed as Mathematics laboratory. Mathematics learning can take place
everywhere even in the garden, park, playground, the shapes, number around us.
1.
A
symmetry pattern can be learnt in nature by observing the leaves symmetric.
2.
A
Fibonacci pattern can be understood by cutting the cross section of oranges,
counting the anticlock wise and clockwise lines on pine apples, counting the
pattern in sunflower etc.
3.
The
concept of mathematics applied in Football shape having pentagon and hexagons
can be understood in the field itself.
4.
Nature can teach us many mathematical phenomena
and for that we don’t need any laboratory as such but for the practical purpose
it is not feasible to do all such experiment in open.
Importance of Mathematics Lab: 
a) Lab offers more scope for individual
participation through different activities. It encourages independent learners
and allows them to learn at their own pace.
b) It widens the experimental base and
lays groundwork for later learning applicable in new learning.
c) It helps in developing meta
cognitive abilities as a student attempts several times without any
interference from time constraints.
Few mathematical lab instruments and its applications:

1) Tower of Hanoi:  It is easy to
construct with the help of rubber sheet and rods but it has practical
implication not only for the purpose of entertainment but it has its history
associated with Vishwanath Temple Varanasi. If there are 5 discs chosen then minimum
number of moves required to transfer the discs to one of the other rods using
the third rod is 31. If the number of discs is more than number of moves will
be 2^n – 1. This puzzle will help students to find the number of moves starting
from 2 discs and increasing the discs one can understand the concept of
COMBINATIONS. Moreover, students can also raise questions like – a) Why we need
three rods not two rods? b) What would happen if we add one more rod?
2) Circle:  In Primary level we have
the different components of circle like – diameter, chord, sector, arc length
etc. In addition to this in secondary level we study the different theorems
based on segments, cyclic quadrilateral, tangents etc. All such concepts can be
understood with the help of mathematical laboratory. A) Finding the area of circle b) relation of
sides and radius in circumcircle, incircle etc. c) tangential circle d) angle
subtended by an arc of a circle e) equidistant equal chords etc.
3) Graph:
 A student can’t be taught the graph on a normal blackboard. The concept of
ordinate, abscissa and coordinate can be taught to a student in laboratory,4) Polygon and Polyhedron:  In mathematical laboratory a student visualize the threedimensional pattern that he /she can’t feel in the book or when drawn on blackboard. The Euler’s relation between Edges, Vertices and Face can only be understood with the proper visualization of the object.
5) Poster and Chart:  Mathematics can
be made inspiring by letting the students know about the story and achievement
of mathematician. Importance of mathematical days like – Pie day (14^{th}
March), Pi Approximation day (22^{nd} July), National Mathematics Day
(22 December). Besides that poster of mathematicians with some information and
tidbits can be kept in laboratory.
6) Surveying Instruments:  In geometry
and especially in trigonometry measuring the height of an object from a distant
point depends on the angle of elevation or depression and it can be understood
if we use – 1) angle mirror 2) plane table 3) hypsometer and clinometers 4) astrolabe 5) sextant 6) ellipsograph 7)
opisometer can come handy to understand the concept of height and distance.
7) Conic Section:  In geometry the
concept of parabola, hyperbola, ellipse can’t be easily explained on blackboard.
The concept of focus, latus rectum, eccentricity can be explained in lab with
proper explanation and experiment to students.
8) Mathematical models:  Various models
on plane geometry, threedimensional geometry can be stored in a lab to
understand the abstract mathematical proofs, principles or statements in
mathematics. Moreover, the concept of symmetry, rotational symmetry can be
explained in laboratory.
9) Algebraic/ Geometrical proof:  Mathematics
is all about knowing the proofs of identities. In algebra there are many
identities that can be explained with the help of some puzzles. Even theorems can
be explained in lab.
There
are 100 of mathematical activities that can be explained in laboratory. Even working
models can be explained or students can be encouraged to make mathematical
models.
Dr Rajesh Kumar Thakur
rkthakur1974@gmail.com