Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mathematical Art for Elementary School Students

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been leading an after school club for elementary school students. We create Digital Art and in the process explore interesting concepts in Mathematics and Computer Science.

In future posts I will give more detail about the individual projects but first I will give you an overview of the ideas we explored over an eight week period:

Rotations and Spirals
- dividing a circle into even (360 / 60 = 6) and not so even (360 / 51 = ??) pieces; looking at the similarities and differences between circles and spirals (medium: Scratch - a visual programming environment for kids).

Fractals - self-similar patterns such as Sierpinski Triangles and Koch Snowflakes (media: BYOB - an extension to Scratch which allowed us to play with recursion; paper and pencil; Inkscape - a free vector graphics tool).

Tessellations - how to create shapes that fit tightly together and cover an area (media: pencil and paper, Inkscape).

To cap it all off, we held an Art Show featuring over 200 original creations from 20 young artists who ranged in age from 7 to 13. The Digital Art was presented on 10 monitors placed behind picture frames adorned with macaroni. The pictures frames were the brain child of my friends Carollyne Yardley (artist) and Duncan Ayre (macaroni expert).

Despite the tight constraints imposed by the Mathematical concepts explored in each project, the students showed a great deal of imagination and created unique and personal interpretations of the ideas. I was very pleased with the results and the keen interest shown by the students. Can't wait to do it again!