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The Many Uses of Dominoes

Dominoes are flat, rectangular pieces of wood, bone, or other material marked with a pattern of dots. The identifying marks are called pips; the number of pips on each side may vary, but one domino always has a single pips at its open end. A domino may be oriented so that the pips are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. Most domino games are played by positioning a set of tiles edge-to-edge against each other. One of the simplest games is a form of Concentration, where the goal is to match two tiles with the same number of pips. Other games may involve blocking or scoring, or a combination of both.

There are a wide variety of games that can be played with dominoes, but they all share basic elements. All of them can be played with any size or type of domino set, although some have special rules that make them unique. For example, a domino set might be specially designed to make a specific pattern or structure when it falls, or the rules might specify how many dominoes must be used to play a game.

For some games, the word domino is also a verb meaning to put a domino down or to place it into position for playing. The first domino to be placed is known as the lead, and it must be completed before any other players can play. If a player makes a mistake when placing a domino, it is referred to as a misplay. If a player’s mistake is discovered before the next player plays, the domino must be recalled and his turn may start again.

In addition to being a fun activity, dominoes can be used to teach math and other subjects. For example, adding a series of dominoes can help students learn the commutative property of addition. This is because the total number of dots on a domino remains the same regardless of how the tiles are oriented. This task is especially helpful for students who have moved beyond using moveable manipulatives and are now learning how to represent numbers symbolically.

Another use of dominoes is in the creation of art, such as curved lines that create pictures when they fall, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Art projects with dominoes can also be a way to introduce the concept of fractions. The fractions involved in a project can be divided with a ruler or a calculator, and the result can be used to create a domino art design.

For large domino installations, Lily Hevesh creates test versions of each section before she starts assembling the final layout. She also films her tests, so she can check that the final installation works well in slow motion. This helps her to catch any accidental topples that might occur as she builds the final installation. These test versions and the filmed slow-motion videos are a critical part of Hevesh’s process because small topples can easily ruin an entire domino installation.