Week 10: Power of Two Tag

Tag is a great way to get moving, and it isn’t just for kids. I have had my highschool groups play with just as much zeal as the 5 year olds. For this week I encourage learners to create outdoor tag games that incorporate a mathematical concept.

Here is an example using the power of 2 in tag:

  • Start of tag – 1 person is “it”
  • That person has to tag 2 people to become “not it”
  • Now two people are “it” and they must tag 2 people to become “not it”
  • The game ends when everyone is “it”

With chalk learners can draw an “it” tree to show the exponential growth of the game (1,2,4,8,16,32… or 2^0, 2^1, 2^2, 2^3, 2^4,…)

Week 9: Dragon Curve

The Dragon Curve is a fractal that is well explained in this numberphile video. This week learners can create a dragon curve with a strip of paper, Lux Blox, Python programing, Legos or toothpicks.

Paper:

For paper, I would suggest using a strip of thin paper. Thicker paper doesn’t produce as many folds as thinner paper. You fold the paper in half, and just make sure you fold from left to right. You can tape, glue or pin your dragon curve down when you are down. One question I like to ask students is: “does the length of paper change how many folds you can get? If so, how?” It is a fun experiment to run.

Lux Blox:

I put together a pdf on this project here.

Python:

If you have never used Python, then I recommend going here. For kids there is a great DK book here.

With python, I would encourage learners to think about how the algorithm would look to create the Dragon Curve. There needs to be a loop for each iteration, but what does that look like? Here is my code (copy and paste it into a py file), but I encourage learners to try first. If you notice that I have an input for angle, it’s because I liked playing with the angles of the dragon curve to create different patterns and variations of the curve. You can hardcode it to 90 degrees if you wish. Play and you never know what you will find.

Week 8: Density Through Pointillism

This week we are going to look at density in a two-dimensional sense. The idea is to create two dimensional images using various densities of points. The medium and approach can vary for the classroom. Some ideas are:

  • Sand art on a stick surface using different densities of sand (try light colored sand and a dark surface or vice-versa)
  • Pointillism with pens, pencils or markers to create a peice
    • play with shading and contrast
    • practice drawing shapes and objects first
  • Pea gravel on asphalt to create images
  • Moving densities with people to create a moving scene or mandala (this takes some choreography)
  • Paint with round pencil erasers as the point/dot maker
  • Round stickers on a contrasting surface
  • For larger grains or objects learners can measure the density of different areas by calculating how many grains/objects are in a given area (ex: grains of sand per square inch)

Students can calculate the density for various areas of their projects and note observations. Classrooms can discuss and play with density functions, look at density maps (ex: population density), look at pointillism art, and/or use apps that change photos into pointillism sketches (pointillist is the one I use).

me with the pointillist app

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