Fancy Plane Shapes

April 30, 2017

Second Graders are learning their shapes. What a great age to be composing, decomposing and recomposing.

Bird on the left, hexagon & rectangle on the right

Bird on the left, hexagon & rectangle on the right

These images are the final part of the Wallet+Book project that I began with about 66 students earlier this week. After making images that had a value of 100 we moved on to getting up-close and intimate with parallelograms and trapezoids.

Students got strips of these parallelograms, which I had printed on five different colored papers. We looked at the parallelograms and noticed that they were made of two triangles. After separating a triangle, we fit next to a full parallelogram, to see how the two shapes, together, could make a trapezoid.

Triangle plus parallelogram makes a trapezoid

Triangle plus parallelogram makes a trapezoid

The kids seemed delighted by this discovery. While most students illustrated this connection with three different images…

Three shapes on one

Three shapes on one

…there was one student who took an elegant approach, which was to make just one shape, then label the way it could be broken down into its parts.

Hexagon, rectangles and star

Hexagon, rectangles and star

Next we moved on to hexagons, rectangles, then, finally, a shape of their own choosing. The kids loved noticing how three parallelograms not only are the parts of a hexagon, but also, that their hexagon has the appearance of a cube drawn in perspective. The toughest shape for the students to make was the rectangle, as this meant that they had to divide a triangle in half, the rotate and reflect the pieces. Not so easy. Try it.

Designing

Designing

After making the compulsory curriculum shapes the kids went free-form, designing their own creations. My seventy minutes time slot with each class of 22 students just flew by!

Whale on the water, spouting

Whale on the water, spouting

Some students made abstractions with the shapes, others created scenes or something recognizable.

Playing with shapes

Playing with shapes

Since this was the first time I was doing this project in the classroom, and since I had three classes to work with, I kept changing how I presented the project, getting a better feel each time for better ways to get the kids to interact with the shapes within the time frame I had with them, and within the agenda that needed to be addressed. For each class, though, I kept the curriculum piece at the beginning of my time with the students, ending the class the creative part. I think I’d like to see what happens if I flip that order of working, as perhaps it will let students discover on their own things that I actively try to get them to see.

 

Pieces in pockets of Wallet-Book

Pieces in pockets of Wallet-Book

When we finished, any extra parallelograms were stored in the origami pocket we had made during out last session, looped a humongous rubber band into a hole punched into the front flap, created and ID card for the front, and added some bling, because, well, bling.

wallet-books

wallet-books

The Wallet-folders, by the way, are made from heavy weight 11″ x 17″ paper that has a four-inch fold along the bottom edge, which creates the pockets. There are two 7-inch wide pockets within, and a 3-inch fold-over flap. If you are wondering where I got this awesome paper that is tinted with black, blue, and silver, with a light cast of gold above, well, thank you for wondering. I spray painted the papers (outside, of course, with a mask on) so I could have exactly what I wanted. Yeah, a bit crazy, but that’s what I do.

Making Books with Money

April 27, 2017

Flower

Flower

Oh my gosh, working with second grade students is so rich.

They have skills, they are enthusiastic and uninhibited, and tapping into their learning curve is delightful.

Windshield, with George in the driver's seat

Windshield, with George in the driver’s seat

I’m working with three sections with about 22 students per class, so I’m getting to see about 66 different ways that students are making sense of the 100 cents project that I described in my last post. (oh, there’s an unintended pun in that last sentence, did you get it?

Abstract design

Abstract design

Short recap: students were given images of coins, which added up to $3.00, from which they chose $1.00, or 100 cents, worth of coins to create a design.

These students hadn’t started studying money yet, which was fine. Most students seemed to understand how much coins were worth, though certainly a few students had no idea about the value of coins.

It was fun, when adding up the value of nickels, to say, Now you know why it comes in handy to count by fives.

Person

Person

Making the wallet-book to house the 100 cent images, then making the images was what we got done on the first day. Separating out 100 cents was certainly the most challenging part of the project. The designs flowed freely.

Bug

Bug

Day 2 was a bit more challenging, but I think that the toughest part was just communicating to them what I was looking for, which was for the students to make matching arrays of the coins that they used in their designs, then providing the equation which showed that the value of the coins equal 100.

Aiirplane

airplane

Turns out that this array-making uncovered a few mistakes. For instance the airplane pictures above was five cents short, so he added a nickel on to the bottom and all was well.

Person in landscape

Person in landscape

There was a wide range of simplicity to complication of images.

Flower

Flower

If students didn’t have enough coins of a certain value left from their original 300 cent to making the matching array, they would exchange change with another student, at least that was the plan, which worked fairly well. I did bring lots of extra coins, for moments when it seemed better just to hand students what they needed.

Still, everyone should have had 100 cents left over. These coins got glued on to a pocket of their wallet book, along with a statement of the value of these coins.  That little black folder that contains the 100 cent image now has an enlarged section of a colorful buck glued on to the front. After all that figuring and adding, it was great to end yesterday’s class with some playful coloring in.

Okay, one more day with these students. The next piece that goes into the wallet-book has to do with combining shapes to make other shapes, much in the same way that we combined values of coins to make other values.

The most joyful moments during these days is having this opportunity to be a part of these early moments of learning about addition. When students say that they can’t get their numbers to add up to 100, though they know that they do, I can sit with them and help them sort out what’s going on. It’s so illuminating for me hear them tell me what they’ve done, and then to help them see another way of interacting with the numbers.

Addendum: as soon as this post went up the generous and brilliant connector-of-all -things-math offered me this link to some other coin projects http://mathhombre.blogspot.com/2009/08/money-games.html

Simply awesome.

 

Book, peeking out of its box by Paula Beardell Krieg

Book, peeking out of its box

When Miriam Schaer was assembling her teaching collection to send to Telavi University in the Republic of Georgia, I very much wanted to contribute, but nothing I had on hand seemed right. In the nick of time, some thoughts came colliding together. Polygon Fractal book by Paula Beardell Krieg

This structure started out with an exploration of a shape which I wrote about a few weeks ago after watching family math video made by the Lawlers.

Inside Outside Book by Paula Beardell KriegThe book  opens in an accordion-like fashion, but front and back are structurally different.

Polygon Fractal book by Paula Beardell KriegThe colorful pages rotate open to create these double layered corners. The polygon fractals on the pages here are harvested from Dan Anderson’s openprocessing page then toyed with in Photoshop.

To see the fractals in their full radiant radial symmetry one must rotate the book. There are six completely different images to be seen. But it gets more interesting, because there is a whole other side to see.

The folds of those double layered corners completely reverse to form a cube!

You can’t imagine how excited I was when I saw this cube emerge from the folds!

This folded structure totally suggested that, whatever I use on it, that it be about the dual nature of….something….a suitcase (no, too obvious), a politician’s statements (ugh, too boring)…actually wanted to use images that didn’t imply any hierarchy, hiding, agendas, or judgement about contrasting inner and outer manifestations.

It was this thinking, about duality but equality of visuals, which led me to using Dan’s code along with the polygon fractals that it creates. So perfect. Code and images are perfectly linked, simply completely different ways of seeing the same thing. You know, like Blonde Brunette Redhead 

Now, I do have a lingering unresolved issue with this book. I’m not thrilled with the paper that I’ve used. It’s 32lb Finch Fine Color Copy paper. It takes color beautifully, folds well, but I’m thinking that the folds might be more prone to tearing than is comfortable. Not sure what else to use…am open for suggestions. Miriam’s copy has been shipped, but I’m still happy to check out different papers to use.

I can’t help but wonder if people will be able to figure the transformation of these  pages without seeing this post or reading the brief explanation I’ve provided on the back page of the book? Dunno.

Oh, and here’s my favorite variation:

Hanging a tea light from a pencil so I can see the inside and outside at the same time.

Happy.

Kaleidocycles and Tetrahedrons

February 19, 2017

img_20170219_101957.jpg

I looked up the definition of a tetrahedron today, I figured out how to spell kaleidocycle a few hours ago. Just saying.

kaleidocycle-colors-1 Paula Krieg

Pattern for one kind of Kaleidocycle

Sometimes an exploration pursues me. It’s always a gift to be preyed upon by ideas, but if my desk is already full and messy, and I think I can’t bear adding one more layer I pretend to kind of ignore the newcomer. No, this strategy doesn’t work.

I didn’t know that tetrahedrons were following me around. Like I said, just this morning I finally looked up the definition (a solid having four plane triangular faces; a triangular pyramid).

The image above is where this all started. This is not such a startling set of pictures until you know that the image shows the same, unchanged structure viewed from front and back. It’s on the facebook page of someone whose name is written in an alphabet I don’t understand. This is the link to the page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/artsmathematics/videos/718044448365422/ . Take a look if you can. It’s such an amazing bit of transformation, which I have yet to figure out how to do. What’s going on here is that this structure to made up of connected 3D shapes that rotate together to reveal different surfaces. It’s very tricky and fun to see the shapes turn, revealing new surfaces.

The next piece of this story is that a teacher just a bit south of me in Upstate NY posted some directions on how to build a certain  geometric shape, and he asked, via twitter, if anyone would be able to test drive his tutorial. It looked simple enough to me, so I thought I’d try it out the following Saturday morning. I thought it would take about 2o minutes. Ha ha.

Tetrahedron

Tetrahedron

Looking back, I think if this teacher, Mr.Kaercher, had done a tutorial on a simple tetrahedron it might have gone more quickly and I might have finished up knowing what a tetrahedron was. But, no, Mr. K provided directions for a tensegrity tetrahedron, and since I didn’t have much of a clue about the definition of either term, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was doing.

Tensegrity Tetrahedron

Tensegrity Tetrahedron

Even so, after a megillah of failures, I got it done and was quite pleased with myself.

In the meantime I was still thinking about those images from that facebook page.

I showed the FB clip to book artist Ed Hutchins. He told me that what I was looking at was a type of kaleidocycle.

Oh, and Ed just happened to have a hot-off-the-presses copy of what is probably the world’s most amazing example of a hexagonal kaleidocycle, designed by Simon Arizpe. (This is a fully funded Kickstarter Project, which you can view to see the book in motion.)

This structure tells a story as it rotates. Since these rotating sides can turn forwards or backwards, the sequence of the story is determined by the direction the viewer rotates the kaleidocycle. The way that I choose to turn it, it begins with a bear peeking out at a stream…

img_20170219_092224.jpg

…the bear opens his mouth, a salmon jumps out…

The Wild by Simone Arizpe

The Wild by Simone Arizpe

The Wild by Simon Arizpe

The Wild by Simon Arizpe

… and then the salmon jumps into the river. There’s one more frame, but I’m not going to be a spoiler and show it to you.

So what does this have to do with tetrahedrons? I’m getting there.

As it turns out, the last couple of times I’ve gone lurking at the Lawler family math page, they’ve been looking at, yes, tetrahedrons.

This shape that the Lawler’s were considering was beginning to look familiar to me. Part of the reason for this was that, ever since Ed had given me the gift of the term kaleidocycle I had been Googling around then assembling kaleidocycles.

Kaleidocycle, unhinged

Kaleidocycle, unhinged

Here’s one of my first attempts. Notice that I forgot to attach the ends together before I closed things up. This turned out to be a good thing, because, wait! these shapes appear to be repeated echoes of the shape that the Lawler family was exploring.

Just to pile it on, it certainly helped that just yesterday a package came in the mail, all the way from France, from Simon Gregg. In the package was, can you guess?… a tetrahedron.

Tetrahedron from Simon Gregg

Tetrahedron from Simon Gregg

That Saturday a few week ago that I tried, time after time, to create my tensegrity tetrahedron, I had been posting my failures publicly on twitter. I imagine that Simon thought that it might be merciful to send me some bamboo, as the straws that I was using would sometimes collapse. Included with the bamboo rods, Simon also gave me a collapsible tetrahedron, held together by stretchy cord.

With all of these pieces floating around me it,  I finally made the connection that units of kaleidocycles are series of tetrahedrons. 

Kaleidocycle/tetrahedrons

Kaleidocycle/tetrahedrons

So cool.

Now to reward you for making it all the way to the end of this post, here is a pattern for a kaleidocycle that you can make yourself.

kaleidocycle-color-2

click the image to get the printable PDF

Just cut it out, use it alone or attach it to the one near the top of this post, but, in either case, do  make sure you attach ends to make it circular. Here’s a pleasant little video to show you how it’s put together.

I still intend to figure out how to make the kaleidocycle that I saw on FB. When I do sit down and try it out, at least, now, I feel like I’m starting with some helpful understandings.

I have no big attachment to figuring it out for myself, so if you are inspired to decipher it, please let me in on its secrets!

img_20170219_102455.jpg

That’s it for now. Thanks for staying with me through these meanderings.

Addendum 2/20/2017

truncated tensegrity tertrahedron

truncated tensegrity tertrahedron

Used bamboo sticks with bobby pins in the ends to make another one of the Mark Kaercher project.  The bamboo worked out great! If I was to make this again with straws, I think I’d try to first put stirrers, like what Starbucks provides to stir coffee, inside the straws. But love the bamboo!

Bamboo

 

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