Week 7: Cartesian Coordinates

This week learners can get hands on with plotting. I encourage learners to investigate the history behind the Cartesian Coordinates (it’s interesting – I was just reading about it in Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz).

The idea is to plot with D&D figures, chalk, legos, or watercolors. Make art out of plots! This is a great activity for pre-algebra and algebra students. Younger students can learn as well but can focus more on finding ordered pairs (x,y). Below are four activities for plotting:

Activity 1: Hit the monster (game it up!)

  • Use a gridded mat (like what is used in D&D), large graph paper or overhead projector
  • Draw Axes on the grid and define the quadrants and scale
  • Place or Draw monsters throughout the plane
  • Have students devise functions that can hit/intersect monsters
    • This can be timed or not timed
    • Students can work in teams
    • This can be a D&D math mission if you are gamifying your lessons
  • If there is only one or two learners then smaller graph paper can be used

Activity 2: Cartesian Lego

  • Decapitate as many minifigures as possible for this activity (other round 1×1 pieces will work as well.
  • My students used a large gray sheet and black flats for the cartesian coordinates
  • Make plots of various functions and then see if others can “name that function”

Activity 3: Watercolors (or other art media)

Create plot families using watercolor flash cards

  • add characters, color, and comics
  • label the backs with the family the plot belongs to.

Activity 4: Plotting in a large room

  • With masking tape in a large room you can make a grid
  • Have students plot functions with beanbags or rope
  • Students can toss a beanbag and then try to figure out the coordinates
  • This can work at an outdoor park if you can grid off an area without creating a tripping hazard

Week 6: Randomness using pi

Pi with Lux Blox

This week learners will create a work of art using pi. The goal here is not to understand pi, but to play with randomness. We will dive into the ratio of circumference and diameter on another week. Pi’s decimals go on forever and without pattern. Here are some ideas to play with that randomness:

  • Build a skyline with your favorite building toy using the digits of pi
  • Use graph paper and shade a skyline of pi
  • Assign a note from 0-9 on instruments or bells and have the learners play the digits in order to hear the randomness
    • Example: C = 0, D = 1, E = 2, F = 3, G =4, A = 5, B = 6, C = 7, D = 8, E = 9 (where you use more than an octave. You can also use sharps, flats, or skip notes)
    • You can also assign chords to each digit rather than notes
  • String or circle art with pi (you can do a circle with 10 points)
Pi using a circle with a point every 36 degrees
Students’ pieces

Differential vs. Integral Kitty

I have been reading Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz as part of a twitter book club and decided to incorporate Fractal Kitty as I go through. This one is from the introduction. I really contemplated playing more with a comic for the Infinity Principle and still may.

Week 5: Tell a Tale (or comic)

No matter what grade/age, stories are fun. This week I encourage learners to read and write math stories. Take a concept and illustrate it through the art of story. Write comics, picture stories, murder mysteries, fantasies, plays, etc. Students can act their story out, create a stop animation, or illustrate. I often encourage learners to write about a concept they love or think they can teach.

Learners I have worked with have enjoyed sharing their stories with each other and friends. Encourage this through a google classroom, open mic, etc.

Some fun ideas if you come up blank:

  • Powers of 2 – the magic of multiplying (like in Demi’s One Grain of Rice)
  • The algorithm for long division as steps to a mystery or spy mission
  • A solar system of various Euclidian Solids
  • A geometrical mission through space with specific angle requirements
  • The route inspection problem – what is the shortest path for the mail to get delivered with a specific layout of houses?
  • Comics on how to learn or do concepts in math
  • Mystery characters that emulate mathematical properties (Logical Lucas, Divisive Desi, Manipulative Mike, etc)
  • Super heroes that have mathematical powers and must solve mathematical problems
  • Fractals – Create a world, character or story that is iterative and infinite

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Week 4: Polyhedra Study

Opal’s sketch (11yrs old)

Leonardo da Vinci was an amazing mathematician, inventor and artist. His sketches in The Divine Proportion are a wonderful collection to study. Spacial awareness and being able to draw what we see is a skill that can be mastered through practice.

This week, I encourage learners to sketch polyhedra from cubes to tetrahedrons to dodecahedrons. Use charcoal, pencils or watercolors to create works of art. You can model with clay, paper, glue and sticks, or building toys and then sketch. Play with various forms of lighting and shading. Move beyond the numbers this week and look for math in the objects/polyhedra around you.

You can combine this study with history and architecture. Go out and look for polyhedra around you. Can you make a pyramid scene? What is a soccer ball? What is the shading like at different times of day for a favorite building? Are there planes of symmetry for your sketch? How many vertices are there?