Week 16: Geometric Sketching – Hummingbird

I love to incorporate drawing skills into math education. This week I encourage learners to start seeing birds (or other animals/people) as shapes. Heads are circles, torsos are ellipses, beaks are triangles, wings are long ellipses…

Sketching is a skill. A skill is something that you can master in time (think growth mindset). This week I challenge learners to start a daily doodle routine. Just doodle something (anything) for 1-2 minutes a day.

Here is an example of the activity. I will use a hummingbird as guidance, but please feel free to pick any object/bird/animal. I tried to do this as a quick sketch example:

Some of the concepts and discussions around sketching can include proportions, ratios, what shapes fit best, etc. I encourage learners to research and dive deeper into sketching skills and drills. I truly believe that art and spatial awareness can be beautifully integrated into learning math.

Additional activity: For high school students in Algebra 2 or higher, they can use Geogebra to sketch the shapes for an animal. How do you plot a circle? an ellipse? triangles? etc. Desmos can be used at a precalculus and calculus level.


KMUZ Poetry on the Air With the Family

KMUZ’s Steven Slemenda interviewed our family in a two part series for a wonderful program called Poetry on the Air. Thanks to KMUZ and Steve Slemenda for sharing. This show is in the archives on their website, and with permission I am posting it here. My children were appreciative of the experience for the interview. It was such a wonderful exercise for them to reflect on. We are grateful for a way for voices to be heard in our Salem Community.

8-20-19: Interview with Sophia’s Children
9-13-19: Interview with Sophia

Week 15: String Art

This is a classic, yet fun activity with math:

  • Start with a compass or protractor and create a circle with evenly spaced points around it. Students can figure out how many degrees need to be between points (example: if you want 10 points, then there are 36 degrees between each point, for 9 points : 40 degrees, etc.)
  • Draw your circle and points on a board
  • Place pins or nails in your board
  • Wrap string in various patterns and see what emerges.
    • Students can study remainders (mod functions), multiplication, and sequences.
    • Star patterns, secondary polyhedra, and cardioids may emerge.
  • If you don’t have wood and nails, then this can be done on paper with a pencil and ruler or sewing with string on paper.
  • Encourage students to look at other shapes, axese, or lines and create works of art. (boards can be painted, multiple colors and thicknesses of string can be used, and students can contemplate 3-dimensional approaches for this art (like with dowels).

Week 14: Guess the rule – math game

One of my hobbies is to take completely non-math related games and modify them for classes. I don’t know what to call this game, it is probably a variation of “psychiatrist” or something, but here is how it goes:

  • In a group of at least 4 players, ask one player to leave the room and go out of earshot.
    • Tell this person that when they come back they can ask as many questions as they would like to figure out the rule.
  • Next, the remaining group creates a rule that answers must follow.
    • This can be a logical rule
      • always lie
      • truth then lie then truth
      • always tell the truth
    • This can be a number of words rule
      • always answer in two words,
      • anwer in one, then two, then three words
    • This can be a sequence rule
      • include the next number of the fibonacci sequence in your answer (A1- I had one good fish, A2 – One reason I don’t like questions, A3 – Two of a kind, A4 – I really only like tricycles in threes, etc.)
    • This can be a sound pattern rule (like syllables, rhymes, etc)
    • Or whatever crazy rule your class/group comes up with.
  • once the rule is guessed or the player gives up, play again!

Week 13: Clay Möbius Strips

There are lots of amazing paper Möbius strips that are fun. You can cut down the middle, twist multiple times, make a Möbius paper chain, and try it with various materials. For a basic paper tutorial, I found a good one here.

Rather than creating the classic paper strips, this week learners will be creating Möbius strips with clay. Using a polymer or air-dry clay, encourage the creation of these wonderful mathematical shapes with a sculpting medium. A clay extruder can come in handy, but isn’t necessary.

I have had students make pendants, infinity signs, and amazing patterns with their projects. For advanced sculpting, learners can create a paper strip first, and then sculpt the same curves.

Matt Parker with Standupmaths also has a great video on these fun strips and how they can make linked hearts: