Week 51: Block Prints

I love thinking of mirror images when I am block printing. I will never forget the time I printed SPARK backwards on accident for a summer art camp and my kids laughed at the reverse phonics. This week I encourage learners to take a math concept, tessellation, or shape and create a print.

Ways to create plates for printing:

  • For younger learners, foam boards easily take impressions.
  • For those that are semi-comfortable carving, potatoes, apples, or rubber blocks can provide semi-soft mediums to carve.
  • For those that are skilled with sharp objects, wood or lino-blocks may be preferred.

When I teach I say these words at least a few dozen times:

  • Do not ever force a blade.
  • Do not cut towards yourself or others.
  • Keep your tools sharp and cleaned.
  • Be in control.

If you are going to carve on a block, foam, or rubber sheet:

  • Sketch a design on paper with a pencil. (Keep in mind the size of your carving surface.)
  • Transfer the design by rubbing the pencil onto the carving surface.
  • Carve your design. (You can either carve in, tracing your lines, or around them.)
  • Roll ink on the block with a brayer.
  • Place a sheet of paper (or fabric) on the block and burnish (or rub) it with a flat surface to make sure that it makes contact with the block.
  • Peel the paper/fabric off. (This can take a few tries to get it right.)

For this post I carved a circle composition with the Fibonacci sequence in mind. I think I run faster with math shirts, so I printed one as well:

One of my children jumped in and we did a Sierpinski potato triangle. To use potatoes: Draw a sketch on the potato, cut out the design, and then treat it like a stamp.

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Week 50: Flip Books

This week I encourage learners to play with their animation skills. Take a math concept, problem, or design and play with ideas to animate it. Start simple to warm up and then build on the ideas. Flip books are fun. I recommend using thinner paper that can be seen through so it is easier to draw on top of the previous frame. Try the paper out before spending the time to draw. Flip books are an analogue GIF.

Here are the basic steps to drawing a flip book:

  • Decide on your math topic to animate. (Fractals, projectiles, growth, decay, etc.)
  • Draw the starting frame:
  • Draw the next frame by tracing and/or using the previous sheet as a reference:

  • Repeat the process of making new frames by referencing the previous:
  • Once your frames are complete – flip it!

There are other ways to animate as well. There are apps such as iMotion to make stop animation films. I also enjoy using Procreate and Looom to create animated GIFs. Learners may prefer to use technology for their animations. I plan to cover this in some STEAM posts at some point. Please share your animations!

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Week 39: Toothpicks

A box of toothpicks can lead to an afternoon of entertainment. This week learners can play with the toothpick sequence. The sequence produces really interesting geometries and lines as it grows. I recommend watching Numberphile’s Youtube video on this sequence here. There is also OEIS’ website that allows for play with variations and many iterations. Grab a box of toothpicks and let’s begin:

Start by placing a single toothpick:

And then place toothpicks centered at each end:

And then place toothpicks centered at each end again:

Repeat this process at the ends that are available:

I also made a GIF in Procreate (stop animation is a wonderful way to play with all sorts of math):

Allow for play with the toothpicks to see what other mathematical patterns and tessellations are created.

Another option is to use graph paper to draw this sequence. Have fun!

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Week 32: Isometric Drawing

Let’s get out our pencils, isometric paper, and thinking caps this week! Isometric drawings are often used in engineering and design as a way to display 3D ideas. They can also be used to create optical illusions and escheresque works of art.

To start, print some isometric paper, or set your digital drawing program to isometric drawing guides. Start by drawing simple objects, like a cube, and play with shading.

Once comfortable with basics, start making skeletons for shapes, linking sides that don’t make physical sense, and thinking about objects that would allow you to go up and down at the same time. Below are some examples and videos to play with:

Opal’s sketch (13yrs old)

Week 18: Castles, Maps and Spaceships – Let’s Draft

This week learners can dive deep into their imaginary worlds (or real world inventions). The project this week is to create a map, castle, spacecraft or invention. The math focus will be on developing a sense of scale. Younger learners may practice scale with proportions in their drawings. Older learners may add units and measurements to their designs.

Offer various materials for their designs: graph paper, extra large sheets, engineering papers, isometric, or hex. Facilitators can supplement learning by looking at maps, blueprints, and patent designs that learners are interested in.

Example spaceship design by Opal(13)
World created by Roger(8)