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 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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